Unsure if this applies to you?

Your experience is totally unique so it’s very normal to feel like what has happened to you doesn’t fit in to what you are reading here.

Minimising what happened, blaming yourself, or defending the actions of others, are all very common and totally understandable ways to deal with traumatic events.

Sometimes this is exactly what the perpetrator(s) intended.  It’s okay to feel the way you do, and it’s okay to wonder about the possibilities.

Here are some thoughts you may be having:

It doesn’t matter. You don’t have to say no in words. Many people who are threatened, frightened, tricked or manipulated choose not to say ‘no’ or ‘stop’. They may feel so ashamed, indebted or scared that they are not able to say anything.

Maybe you chose not to argue or ‘fight back’ which is very common for a huge variety of reasons. 

Maybe you trusted the person so had been manipulated into thinking you couldn’t say no.

The law says each of us is responsible for making sure our sexual partners are giving their free consent to what we want to do.

The law says that they should have had a ‘reasonable belief’ that you wanted to do what happened. A reasonable belief is something active. This includes your body language as well as your words.

They should have been sure you were actively and knowingly consenting, and if they had any doubts they should have asked you.

The law says everyone has the right to withdraw their consent at any time. This means you can stop at any time, whatever you’re doing.

It might be awkward or frustrating but that’s not the point. You have the legal right to say stop and no one should force, or coerce you to continue or do something you’re no longer  comfortable with.

No. Everyone has the right to give or withhold their consent to any sexual act at any time. Dressing up, dancing, flirting, getting drunk, kissing. Nothing gives anyone the right to force, coerce or manipulate you into anything.

If you met someone through a website or App designed for people to meet up, with the assumption that you’ll have sex, that doesn’t have any bearing on whether or not they secured your consent for what happened. 

Whatever you’re both expecting at the outset, you have to negotiate and agree on what sexual activity to do together at the time, and you can change your mind at any time.

No. You have the same rights over your body and the same right to give or withhold consent as anyone else.  Any agreement you made in advance has no bearing over whether or not you consented in that moment.

Legally being drunk or under the influence of drugs doesn’t automatically mean you are not able to give consent.  However, they had a responsibility to ensure that you were not incapacitated to the point of being unable to make an informed decision. 

Legally, it’s about whether your ability to make a free choice is so impaired by drink or drugs that you really are not able to decide. 

If you don’t know what you agreed to, and when, or can’t remember exactly what you did, then it’s likely that you didn’t have the ability to make an informed decision at the time. 

It is very common to feel guilt or shame about unwanted sexual experiences which happened while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Remember your ability to decide was impaired and the perpetrator(s) took advantage of this context for their own ends which is entirely their responsibility, and a crime. It was not your fault. 

You may find doing the Context Exercise useful to help you understand more about the facts of why it wasn’t your fault to help ease your feelings of guilt and shame.

 You can be assaulted, raped or abused by your partner. In fact this is one of the most common forms of adult sexual crime. 

If you didn’t freely and willingly agree to what happened, then it was unwanted, and illegal, regardless of who did it to you.