• Sexual Violence & Consent

    Sexual violence includes a wide range of non-consensual sexual activities, which may be perpetrated by partners, friends, family, acquaintances, or strangers. Sexual violence may include but is not limited to:

    Sexual Assault or Rape

    • Unwanted oral, anal, and vaginal penetration by penis, hand, finger, or other foreign object that is attempted or completed; commonly known as rape
    • Unwanted contact between the mouth and penis, vulva, or anus
    • Unwanted sexual touching, both above and underneath clothing
    • Forcing an individual to masturbate or masturbate another party
    • Physical sexual acts forced through threats of violence or coercion
    • Sexual abuse is a term commonly used when discussing sexual assault, and refers to a series of repeated acts

    Many people think that most rapes are committed by strangers, but the reality is that most women are raped by someone they know.

    Sexual Harassment

    • Unwelcome sexual advances
    • Requests for sexual favors
    • Inappropriate sexual comments
    • Any hostile environment (workplace, school, etc.) where sexual joking, viewing of pornography, and/or degrading images are present

    In Vermont the words rape and sexual assault mean the same thing.

    It is a crime in Vermont to have sex with someone without their consent. In Vermont, the crime of sexual assault occurs there is penetration of any kind (vaginal, oral, or anal) by a body part or object:

    • Without a person’s consent
    • When force or threat of force is present
    • When a person coerces (pressures or intimidates) you
    • When a person is under the age of 16
    • When drugs or alcohol are given to you without your knowledge or permission

    It’s sexual assault even if the other person is your partner. It’s sexual assault even if you were drinking or using drugs. It is sexual assault no matter what you were wearing or where you were.

    Sexual violence is not about sexual attraction.

    Sexual violence is about power and control.

    Consent

    Consent is permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. When sex is 
consensual, it means everyone involved has agreed to what they are doing and has given their permission. Non-consensual sex, or sex without someone’s agreement or permission, is sexual assault.
    Consent needs to be clear. Consent is more than not hearing the word “no.” A partner saying nothing is not the same as a partner saying “yes.” Don’t rely on body language, past sexual interactions or any other non-verbal cues. Never assume you have consent. Always be sure you have consent.
    Sexual consent can only be FREELY given if:

    • There is a sufficient balance of power in the relationship. There is no significant age, developmental or status differences. One person doesn’t have authority over the other. No one has used or threatened to use violence over the other.
    • Both people are aware of the consequences of sexual activity, both positive and negative, and know what will happen next. Decisions have been made together about birth control and STD/HIV protection, both people agree to what types of contact are okay, both people understand what it means for their relationship together.
    • It is safe to say no. There is no pressure, tricks or manipulation to say yes, no threats of harm or embarrassment. There are no negative consequences for saying no, no teasing, no pressure, no jokes or telling other people.
    • If you say yes you can change your mind or stop at anytime. You feel comfortable that if you change your mind at any point you will be respected and listened to.
    •  Neither party is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If someone is drunk or high, they can’t really say yes for sure. Save sexual activity for when you’re both sober.

    Remember:

    You have a right to your feelings, what might feel right one time may not feel right the next time.
    You don’t have to do something again just because you did it once.
    You have a right to set your boundaries and talk about them.