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Myth: If a person doesn’t say no, it is not rape

Myth: If a person doesn't say no, it is not rape

2 February, 2017
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In this series of blogs, we expose some of the myths that surround sexual abuse and sexual violence. The series is part of National Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week.

The aim is to highlight how damaging these myths can be and how important it is to raise awareness of sexual abuse and sexual violence to both prevent and effectively respond to victims and survivors. IDAS employ Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs) who support survivors with both practical guidance and emotional support. These accounts are based on real life events; however, some details have been changed to preserve the anonymity of the survivors. The content of the blogs may be upsetting for some people as they depict the circumstances of the violence or abuse experienced by the survivor as they recall it. The survivors have given their permission for these accounts to be published to help dispel the myths.

This account addresses the perpetrator of the sexual violence. This survivor did not give enthusiastic consent, or any form of consent to sex.

“I didn’t say no."

“So, you assumed I meant yes. How wrong is that?"

“You had spent the last five years of school teasing me, bullying me. You didn’t like me, you certainly didn’t fancy me. So why did you think I wanted to have sex with you? You knew I despised you and did everything possible to avoid you."

“I didn’t know you would be at the party. We have mutual friends yes, but normally they would tell me if you were going to be there. I should have known though. It wasn’t even your typical end of school party, there was no alcohol or drugs and our friend’s parents were present. I thought I was safe. I didn’t even know you had arrived."

“I was in the utility getting a drink and you came in behind me. You told me not to say anything."

“I froze."

“You lifted my skirt up and as much as I wanted to shout and scream nothing came out."

“I tried to shove you off and push you away but my limbs were limp, lifeless. I felt paralysed with fear. My brain was in panic mode but the only bodily reaction I could manage were the tears that flowed freely."

“When you finished, you left me rooted to the spot. I wanted to go home, to run away. Anything to not be in the same house as you."

“But you weren’t finished there. You carried on your years of abuse and torment by messaging me about what you had done. You said it was consensual. It wasn’t.”

The law states a person must give enthusiastic consent before any form of sexual activity.

People describe ‘enthusiastic consent’ as being an agreement between people who are equally excited and interested in engaging in sexual activity with each other. Consent is signalled through physical, verbal, and emotional cues. For ‘enthusiastic consent’ to happen, those involved must pay close attention to each other continually, this should be an integral part of any consensual sexual activity.

It is a myth that people’s normal response to sexual violence is to fight back, scream and shout. This account shows a type of response which is recalled by many survivors.

For advice and support call IDAS on 03000 110 110

Further reading:

National Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness week:

The statutory definition of consent in law:

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