Consent Accidents can happen. Misunderstandings, assumptions, internalised peer pressure or behavioural scripts can all lead to Consent Accidents. These don’t mean you are a bad person. Just as accidentally tripping on someone’s toes on a dance floor doesn’t mean you are a bully, pushing past someone’s boundaries.
Consent Violations and What To Do
You said No, and your No was ignored. What do you do?
If you have been sexually assaulted or raped- contact police immediately.
Was there a misunderstanding or miscommunication? Do you want to give that person feedback? If so, do you feel comfortable talking to that person about it? If not, a trauma counsellor, friend, or survivor support professional may be able to assist you.
Remember: you don’t ever have to give someone feedback if you are not comfortable doing so.
I think I violated someone’s Consent? What do I do now?
This happens more often than we might like to admit, but it is important to be able to own your own mistakes, and offer to listen to the other party, and support them in whatever way they might need in order to find healing- even if what they need from you is to be left alone.
Consent Violations don’t just happen between strangers. In fact, many happen between individuals who are already in an existing relationship.
Some things to consider if you think you may have violated someone’s consent:
Was it a miscommunication? Were you intoxicated? Were you trying to harm them?
How might you be able to acknowledge your mistake and ask for forgiveness?
Are you able to contact the other person and invite them to engage in conversation with you about it?
What does the other person need from you in order to heal, or find resolution, or to rebuild trust with you?
Acknowledging we may have violated someone’s consent can be incredibly challenging, because of the social stigma surrounding it. Most of the time a consent violation is accidental, but admitting to an accident runs the risk of being labelled a perpetrator or rapist. However, for the person whose consent was injured, hearing that acknowledgment, and the offer of support to help them heal and potentially rebuild trust, can go a long way to finding resolution.
Everyone makes mistakes, we are all capable of misreading a situation. This doesn’t mean we are all bad people. It’s part of being human. We can learn how to be aware to avoid mistakes, and learn from the ones we have made.