What is Consent? Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Learn what consent means, how to protect yourself, and how to get help during Sexual Assault Awareness Month if you need it.

Everyone deserves to feel safe and respected in their interactions and relationships. Consent is essential – it means everyone involved freely and clearly agrees to sexual activity. Understanding consent is the first step to stopping sexual assault and building healthier communities. Sadly, not everyone experiences this safety, and the trauma of sexual assault can last a lifetime.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month – a time to raise awareness and offer support to survivors. Mariposa Center in Orange County offers a safe space for survivors of sexual assault to find healing. We provide confidential counseling, support groups, and even specialized therapies to help you process what happened and begin to rebuild your life. If you need someone to talk to, we’re here for you. If you or someone you care about has been affected by sexual assault, please know that help is available.

What is Consent?

Consent is freely and willingly agreeing to sexual activity on both sides. Everyone involved should understand what they’re agreeing to, even if they’ve been intimate before. Consent shouldn’t feel pressured or coerced, and it can change at any time.

It’s important to remember that consent isn’t just about the absence of a “no.” It’s about making sure everyone feels safe, respected, and comfortable. If you have any doubts or feel unsure, it’s always best to ask for clarification before engaging in any sexual activity.

Can Consent Be Withdrawn at Any Time?

Yes! You can change your mind about sexual activity at any time, even if you’ve already said “yes” before. It doesn’t matter how far things have gone – if you don’t want to continue, you have the right to say “no” or ask to stop.

Your partner should always respect your decision. It’s really important to listen to each other and respect what the other person wants. If someone changes their mind, it’s important to stop right away.

What is the Purpose of Sexual Assault Awareness Month?

Sexual Assault Awareness Month isn’t just about knowing what consent is – it’s about acting to end sexual assault. It’s a month when we say loud and clear that sexual violence is never okay, and it won’t be tolerated in our communities.

During Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we wear teal to show support for survivors. By spreading information and creating open conversations, we encourage people to understand consent and recognize the signs of sexual assault. This awareness creates a shift, making it safer to report assaults, to stand up for victims, and to hold perpetrators accountable. Sexual Assault Awareness Month helps break the cycle of violence and protect our friends, family, and neighbors.

What Services Help Victims of Sexual Assault?

It takes time to heal from sexual assault, but getting professional help is an important step. If you’re in danger, call 911 immediately. You can also reach the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE or visit online.rainn.org 24/7. For long-term care, Mariposa Center offers support to help you cope and heal, including:

  • Confidential Counseling: Talk through your experience and emotions in a safe, non-judgmental, private space.
  • Support Groups: Connect with other survivors and share your experience and advice for healing.
  • Equine Therapy: Use guided interactions with horses to reconnect with your emotions and body after trauma.

“Sexual assault can leave survivors feeling disconnected from their own emotions and bodies. We’ve found that Equine therapy is a huge help for people who experienced sexual assault. Horses are deeply sensitive animals; they respond directly to how a person is feeling, even if they haven’t found the words to express it yet. This connection allows survivors to gently re-engage with their emotions in a safe, non-confrontational way, helping them on their path to healing.”

  • Dr. Krista Driver, LMFT, CEO, Mariposa Center

Related Article: Types of Equine Therapy

Find Healing from Sexual Assault at Mariposa Center

If you’ve been affected by sexual assault, please know that you are not alone. It can be scary to reach out for help, but doing so is one of the bravest things you can do for yourself. You deserve to feel safe, respected, and whole again.

Mariposa Center is here to walk alongside you on your healing journey. We offer confidential counseling, support groups, and even specialized therapies like equine therapy to help you process your experience, rebuild your confidence, and rediscover hope. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to simply learn more. Let this be the start of a brighter future.

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