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Consensual Sex - What Does It Mean?

When I hear the word ‘consent,’ I often think of being younger and going on school field trips. There was always a permission slip for my parents to sign. By signing, they were allowing me to go on the field trip; they were giving their consent. The definition of the word ‘consent’ shown on google is “permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.” When we consent to something, we are saying that we are okay with it. We are saying that we are agreeing with what is being done.

Avenue Women’s Center provides free pregnancy tests and support to Chicagoland women of all ages. If we may be able to help in your situation, please contact us.

Now that we know what the word ‘consent’ means, what does ‘consensual sex’ mean?

Consensual sex is sex that is permitted by both people in the act.

When is it NOT consensual sex?

Consent cannot be given by someone who is not physically or mentally able. For example, if someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol causing incoherency, that person is not sound to be giving consent. Age is also a factor in consensual sex. The Illinois Age of Consent Law states, “The age of 16 is below the legal age of consent. In Illinois, when a person commits a sexual act with someone under the age of 17, but over the age of 13, and the person is less than 5 years older than the minor, he or she is guilty of criminal sexual abuse – even if both participants believed the sex was consensual.”

Some who find themselves in sexual assault (i.e. not consensual) situations might lead themselves to believe it was their fault; they dressed too provocatively, or started the physical touching. Please know that no matter what, forced sexual acts are NEVER okay; there is never a validating reason for it to occur. Individuals who have been raped may feel it was their fault because they might have been too drunk to stop it, they froze, or they previously had sex with that partner. But let me say again, if sex is NOT consensual then it is NOT okay.

The bottom line when it comes to sex: “No means No” and “Yes means Yes.” Consent includes being able to say yes, without being incapacitated or a minor. Consent includes saying yes.

What if my situation was not consensual?

Having experienced rape or sexual assault can cause feelings of fear, embarrassment, hurt or loneliness. It can be tempting to try ignoring the situation. Talking about what happened can be tough – even scary. However, it can also provide support, care, and healing. You and your safety are important. We want to encourage you to talk with a trusted authority. If you’re younger, perhaps you have access to a school counselor or advisor. Talking with your local police may be an option. RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) offers a hotline at 800-656-4673, and provides referrals to local crisis centers. We encourage you to seek the caring support you deserve.

Could I be pregnant?

If you are concerned you might be pregnant, please let Avenue Women’s Center help by offering a free and confidential pregnancy consultation at one of our five Chicagoland locations. Our tests are highly accurate. Our staff members will care for you with great sensitivity. We will start with the pregnancy test, and assist if you need further care. If you may be in need of those services, please contact us. We are here for you.

The information provided here is general in nature.  It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center.  If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention.  Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.