Health

Consent- A Changing Conversation

The #metoo movement has swept our nation and has been in the news daily. Consequently, the way we talk about consent is changing. Today, students, parents, faculty, friends—both men and women—should be talking about consent!  

Student girl thinking looking in campus park going back to school at university college. Happy female student sitting studying, writing and reading. Mixed race Asian / Caucasian female student woman
By: Sue Jones

The #metoo movement has swept our nation and has been in the news daily. Consequently, the way we talk about consent is changing. Today, students, parents, faculty, friends—both men and women—should be talking about consent!  

Know the Law 

It’s important to understand that sexual assault can include more than instances of outright forced sex. It’s particularly important to note that in Alabama: 

  • A person under the age of 16 cannot legally give consent.If you are 18 or older and your girlfriend or boyfriend is under the age of 16, you can be legally charged with a crime even if you both agree to have sex.
  • A person is unable to consent to sexual activity when they are impaired by alcohol or other substances.If you have sex with someone who you know is impaired by alcohol or drugs (legal or illegal), even if they do not physically resist, you may be charged with a crime.
  • A person feels pressured to have sex under the implied threat of force is legally a victim of sexual assault.If your partner is afraid, even if you do not actually intend to do them harm, you may be charged with a crime.

Ala Code §13A-6-60(6). 

The Bottom Line? Consent is MANDATORY for everyone’s protection. It may not sound particularly romantic, but it’s critical to ask permission before making a move and be willing to accept if your partner says “no”; they shouldn’t have to say it twice. By respecting your date’s wishes and communicating clearly and openly, you can ensure that you are not unintentionally causing harm, and you’re protecting yourself legally.  

While these aren’t fail-proof, here are some things you can do to help protect yourself from sexual assault: 

  • Be extra careful about meeting people online.
  • Talk to your parents or guardians.
  • Know your limits and communicate them.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol.
  • Go out, don’t hang out in dorms or apartments.
  • Date in groups.
  • Use the word NO. There is no substitute. You always have the right to say NO to things you do not want to do!

Roofies: Date rape drugs are sometimes used to assist a sexual assault. Roofies often have no color, smell, or taste, so you can’t tell if you are being drugged. The drugs can make you weak and confused – or even cause you to pass out completely. To protect yourself, never accept or share a drink with someone else or leave your drink unattended. Open your drink yourself and never drink from a common open container such as a punch bowl. Always order a drink yourself or watch the drink as it is being poured. 

For Help and Assistance: 

National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline: 1-800-656-4673 

Date Rape Drugs- OWH Helpline: 800-994-9662 

FOCUS: 256-453-0655 | www.thefocusprogram.com 

Co-Founder | FOCUS

Sue Jones, M.Ed., graduated from the University of North Alabama and Jacksonville State University. She is Co-Founder and Executive Director of FOCUS. Sue has worked with schools in all 67 counties implementing and promoting FOCUS. Contact her at sjones@thefocusprogram.com and visit www.thefocusprogram.com for more information on FOCUS.

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