Consent Is Not Just For Hookups, It’s For Relationships Too

consent in relationships
Photo by Bianca Salgado

The ones who we love the most often hold the tentative keys to our hearts. So, sometimes they’re the ones who hurt us the most.

Dumbfounded by love and in awe of your partner, it can be tricky to navigate the lines of love and sexual assault. You may find yourself completely infatuated by your partner and wholeheartedly in love.

So, how can it be that you’ve found yourself a victim of sexual assault? You trust your partner with every ounce of your being and are in a healthy, loving relationship. This means there can be no room for lack of consent and sexual assault, right?

Wrong.

There’s a catastrophic misconception or blurred line in relationships surrounding consent. For many, it’s not something they need to think about until it happens. Regardless of your relationship status, consent applies to everyone. It applies to any new activity the two of you haven’t explored before.

Consent is not just for new partners. It applies to every single time you are intimate. Consent is sexy, and it is empowering. It should be viewed as a loving aspect of an intimate relationship. Consent shows love and respect at the highest level.

A woman who has found herself victim to such events often feels confused, disappointed, and shameful. How could the one I love disrespect me? I thought he was different? What did I do wrong to deserve this?

To be overpowered with immobilizing fear and shock is callous in itself. But, to find yourself hurt by the one you love and trust is heart-wrenching. In those moments that the assault occurs, the moments after and every time after that—exuberates a crippling pain.

It’s also true that you can still feel like you are in love or still love the person who assaulted you. Sexual assault holds no guidelines or handbook as to how you should feel. This is especially true if the perpetrator was your boyfriend or partner. Sometimes you are so intertwined with your lover that you can dismiss or repress those feelings. Your partner may even lead you to believe the assault did not take place, or it didn’t happen how you remember it. Stay true to yourself and trust your memory. Chances are, you are right.

You remember it all vividly and have nightmares about it frequently while they sleep peacefully next to you without so much as a shudder. You lie awake as your insomnia takes over and your mind plunges into overdrive.

Your body now doesn’t feel like it did before. It’s different, but you can’t quite put your finger on it.

Sometimes your partner tries to have sex with you, even though you haven’t in months. You’re drunk and terrified past events will repeat themselves, so you lash out in fear and hope he will get bored and fed up with you. The thought of sex with him now is terrifying and makes you feel sick to the core.

There are also times he tries to have sex, but your body language is clear. You don’t want to. You say no more than once; once should be enough, but it isn’t. He makes you feel guilty for saying no and questions you for a long time why you keep saying no. The tension in the room is so unbearable, but he doesn’t even notice and just keeps on asking why?

Why, why, why?

He even questions your past relationships and sexual encounters. He asks why you had sex with other people but not him now? He’s shouting at you and slut-shaming you, but you keep quiet because you’re not sure what his next actions will be.

Wading through all of the shame and guilt, I hope you find the blue beyond the clouds. I hope you recognize that you could never be at fault for somebody else’s negligent decisions. I hope you see your undeniable worth.

In your turbulent yet righteous journey back to you, the you before this, I hope you find peace, happiness, and self-love in abundance.

This does not define you, even if it feels like it does. Maybe you’re still with that partner, or you’ve finally broken free. Wherever you are in your journey, remember to stay true to yourself and the courageous woman you are.

Someday in the future, you will find yourself singing along to your favorite song or laughing loudly with friends, and it will find you once again as a passing thought. But that is all it will be. A distant memory of the dark times you have overcome and a small reminder of the strong woman you have always been.

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