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Workshop 5: Consent

 

Empathy: The ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. This can sometimes happen spontaneously, for example, when you laugh with someone who is laughing uncontrollably. You can also choose to respond with empathy, using skills like active listening and mirroring.

Active Bystander: Also known as being an “upstander,” this refers to someone who takes active steps to intervene in a situation where harm is occurring / may occur, may it be online or in person​. When being an active bystander, remember to follow the A,B,C’s:

  • Assess for safety. Make sure you are not putting yourself in harm's way by intervening. If the situation is dangerous, call for help from authorities.

  • Be with others. If it is safe to intervene, your influence will be greater with more people. Someone can be with the victim(s), someone else can call for more support, etc

  • Care for others. Ask the victim(s) of the situation if they are ok. Assess if they need medical attention or other support, and seek it out. Provide any further resources you think could be helpful.

Relationships

 

Consent: Giving consent means agreeing to do something. In sexual and intimate relationships, sexual consent refers to giving permission for doing or receiving any form of sexual activity (from touching and kissing, to penetration). There are a lot of aspects about sexual consent that are important to understand. Consent:

  • is always needed, no matter the partner, the context, or the types of sexual activity

  • is freely given (no threats, pressure, or coercion)

  • is informed (a person should know what they consent to)

  • is enthusiastic

  • can be revoked at any time

  • can be given for some activities, and not for others

  • is never assumed

  • can be communicated verbally or nonverbally

Consent cannot happen when:

  • someone is incapacitated

  • someone is less than 16 (sometimes less than 18)

  • there are power dynamics

  • there are threats, coercion, pressure, or force

Healthy Relationship: When a relationship is healthy, partners feel good about themselves and each other most of the time. Partners feel like they have respect, kindness, trust, honesty, equality, and good communication. And they also give each other space to have their own lives outside the relationship.

Unhealthy Relationship: Partners in unhealthy relationships usually have issues around communication, respect, boundaries, safety, and trust (amongst other things). One or more partners may feel anxious, confused, uncertain about the relationship, and unsafe. Some of the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship are put-downs, anger, jealousy, feelings of guilt, control issues, and disrespect.

Abusive Relationship: An abusive relationship involves someone attempting to control and harming the other. Abuse can take on many forms, like physical, emotional, sexual, and digital. It can happen to anyone. It doesn't matter your age, gender, sexual orientation, the length or type of relationship.

Power Dynamics: Power dynamics refer to the relationships between individuals where one person holds influence or control over another's decisions, actions, or circumstances. Recognizing and understanding power dynamics is crucial for maintaining healthy relationships and ensuring that all parties feel respected and empowered. There are two main types:

  • Built-in power dynamics: These are part of certain relationships, where one individual naturally has authority or influence over the other. Examples include parent-child, teacher-student, employee-boss, and coach-athlete relationships.

  • General power dynamics: These can occur in any relationship, including friendships, where one person exerts control or influence over another. For example, a friend who always dictates how you spend your free time and/or with whom.

Coercion: In a relationship, coercion refers to the use of force, threats, manipulation, or pressure to control the thoughts, and actions of others. There are many other forms of coercion including:

  • Emotional Coercion: Using guilt or shame to control another person

  • Physical Coercion: Using physical force, or threatening to use physical force against someone in order to have them act or behave in a certain way

  • Sexual Coercion: pressuring or forcing someone into sexual activity they don’t wish to participate in, or using sexual activity as a bargaining tool, or as a way to control someone.

Verbal Communication: This is how you express yourself using your voice. It includes talking, sharing, and conveying information with spoken language, but also includes your tone of voice and things like sighs and groans.

Non-Verbal Communication: This is how you can communicate without using words. It involves movements and gestures you make with your body, including your face, posture, hands, eyes and more. It can give others a lot of information about how you are feeling. Your body language often shows how you feel subconsciously, but you can also adjust your body language to make someone feel more comfortable. Paying attention to how people move and behave can give you clues about what they are thinking or feeling, even if they don’t say it out loud.

Safer Sex: is having protected sex using condoms to prevent the transmissions or contraction of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Violence and Assault

 

Physical Force: Physical force refers to any instance of using your body physically against others in a non-consensual way. For instance, blocking the doorway to prevent someone from leaving, throwing objects at another person, or kicking, hitting, slapping, or holding someone down are examples of physical force.  

Incapacitated: A state of being unable to function, act, or make decisions clearly. This could be due to the consumption of alcohol or drugs, a mental or physical limitation, or being in an unconscious or sleeping state. Someone who is incapacitated is unable to give consent.

Bullying: Bullying is a form of behaviour that includes harm, force, coercion or intimidation against others. Bullying can come in various forms, including verbal, physical, social, or cyberbullying. Bullying often implies that there are repeated behaviours creating a pattern of harassment or harm over time. Bullying can have severe and long-lasting effects on the well-being of those involved.   

Blackmail: An illegal action of threatening and demanding some sort of benefit from another person (money, sexual acts, test answers, etc.) in return for not revealing comprising or damaging information about them.

Gender-Based Violence: Or GBV for short, refers to violence incurred because of someone’s gender, perceived gender, gender expression, or gender identity. GBV is a human rights violation. It is not limited to physical violence and can include any words or actions that attempt to degrade, control, humiliate, intimidate, coerce, deprive, neglect, discriminate, harass, threaten or harm another person based on their gender. GBV can take many forms, including cyber, physical, sexual, social, psychological, emotional, and economic. 

Exploitation: This is the act of taking advantage of someone or something for one’s own benefit. It can involve using someone’s vulnerability, trust, or resources for personal gain, often at the expense of the other person’s well-being. Some examples of exploitation include:

  • Always borrowing money without intentions of repaying it

  • Befriending someone only to gain popularity

  • Manipulating someone’s emotions to get them to do favours for you

  • Sharing someone else’s personal information without their permission

  • Taking credit for someone else’s ideas and accomplishments

Sexual Violence

 

Sexual Assault: Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual act done by one person to another. It can include any unwanted kissing, touching, grabbing, or penetration.

Sexual Violence: Sexual violence “is any violence, physical or psychological, carried out through sexual means or by targeting sexuality.” This includes, but is not limited, to sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, voyeurism, degrading sexual imagery, distribution of sexual images or video... without consent, and cyber harassment or cyber stalking of a sexual nature or related to a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and/or presentation (11).

Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault: Or DFSA for short, this is when a victim is subjected to sexual acts while incapacitated or unconscious, and is therefore unable to provide consent. This is a serious crime.

Rape: Rape is a form of sexual assault. Rape means being forced to have vaginal, oral or anal intercourse against your will or without your full consent.

Normalization of Sexual Violence: This refers to specific ideas, behaviours and actions that make people think that it is okay or not as serious for sexual violence to happen in society. It includes making sexual violence be seen as common, expected or excused, and often uses victim blaming and blames survivors for having experienced sexual violence. It is an extremely serious issue in culture and the media because it leads to many people believing that certain actions or words are normal and acceptable when, in reality, they cause a great deal of harm. 

Sexual Coercion: Sexual coercion “is unwanted sexual activity that happens after being manipulated or pressured in nonphysical ways” (8) that can include:

  • Badgering: Being worn down by someone who repeatedly asks for sex or making you feel like it’s too late to say no. 

    • “But you’ve already gotten me all worked up,” “you can’t just stop now”

  • Emotional manipulation: Being lied to or being promised things that weren’t true to trick you into having sex, withdrawing affection, or giving over-the-top affection and compliments as a tactic of emotional manipulation etc. 

  • Threats: Having someone threaten to end a relationship, lie or spread rumors about you or reveal private information (i.e. threatening to reveal your sexual orientation publicly or to family or friends) if you don’t have sex with them.

    • “It’s really important for us to have sex, if you want me to stay with you”

    • “Everyone thinks we already have, so you might as well,” “I’ll just tell everyone you did it anyway.”

    • “If you don’t do this I’ll tell your family you are gay”

  • Abuse of Power Dynamics: Having an authority figure, like a teacher, counselor, boss, property manager etc., use their influence or authority to pressure you into having sex.

    • “I’ll give you a good grade, if you do this”

    • “I really respect your work here. I’d hate for something to change that.” 

    • “It’d be a shame for you to not get that ‘A’ you deserved.”

Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment “is a course of unwanted remarks, behaviours, innuendo, taunting or communications of a sexual nature and/or a course of unwanted remarks, behaviours or communications based on gender, gender identity, and/or sexual orientation where the person responsible for the remarks, behaviours or communications knows or ought reasonably to know that these are unwelcome” (9).

  • Sexual harassment “may consist of unwanted attention of a sexual nature such as personal questions about one’s sex life, unwelcome sexual invitations or requests, or unwelcome remarks about someone’s appearance.”

  • Sexual harassment “may also consist of unwelcome remarks based on gender, gender identity or sexual orientation where such remarks may not be of a sexual nature but are nevertheless demeaning such as derogatory gender-based jokes or comments.”

  • “A single serious incidence of such behaviour may constitute harassment if it has the same consequences and if it produces a lasting harmful effect on the survivor” (10).

Stealthing: is the act of non-consensual condom removal, or the damaging of it before sexual intercourse, when the sex partner has only consented to condom-protected sex. This is sexual assault.​​

Rape Myths: Prejudicial, stereotyped and false beliefs about sexual assaults, rapists, and rape victims. This shifts blame from the perpetrator to the victim of sexual assault (see victim blaming below). Rape myths often serve to excuse sexual aggression and violence, create hostility,  or cast suspicion and doubt on victims and their allegation of sexual assault, and bias criminal prosecution. Rape myths in this way create cultural harm. 

  • For example: “She was asking for it because she was wearing a short skirt, what did she expect!”

This is a false belief: in reality sexual assault happens to people regardless of what they are wearing (this is a rape myth and victim blaming). Most importantly, there is never a justification for sexual assault!

Sextortion: sextortion is private images or video that are used to blackmail a victim (illegal). “The practice whereby perpetrators typically coerce victims into creating and sharing images, or performing sexual acts, and then threatening the victim with exposure unless they continue the activities. Other times, the perpetrator hacks into people’s social media profiles and, on finding intimate images, threatens to share them” (5)

Victim Blaming: is the attitude which suggests that the victim rather than the perpetrator bears responsibility for the assault. The victim of a crime or any wrongful act is held entirely or partially at fault for what happened. Victim-blaming occurs when it is assumed that an individual did something to provoke the violence by actions, words, or dress (12).

  • For example: Someone is drinking at a party and is sexually assaulted. A person says, “that if the victim wasn’t drinking it would have never happened. They should have been in control and it’s their fault!”

There are many things happening at the same time in this example. It is a rape myth to say, “it’s not really sexual assault if someone is drinking” (it is sexual assault!). If someone is drinking - their judgement and motor skills are impaired or delayed by alcohol or any drugs - therefore, the person was never in a position to give informed consent. It is victim blaming - it is never the victim’s fault. Perpetrators often use alcohol and drugs as a tactic to facilitate sexual assault. Therefore, it is important to challenge this rape myth and victim blaming that comes with alcohol/drug consumption. No one asks to be sexually assaulted. This is a crime.

Online

 

Sexting: This includes multiple acts, such as sending or receiving nude or nearly nude photos, and videos showing nudity or sex acts. It also includes sending or receiving text messages that are of a sexual nature. 

Intimate images/videos: Refers to images or videos that depict explicit or assumed sexual activity, nudity, or partial nudity.

Image-Based Sexual Abuse: The non-consensual creation and/or distribution of intimate images and video. Includes:

  • Non-consensually taken images that have been hacked or stolen and then shared (distribution)

  • Non-consensual creation of sexual imagery: for example photos and videos created by means of upskirting, forms of voyeurism and sextortion, or recordings of sexual assault  (creation)

  • Perpetrators threatening to share images, may this be through blackmail, coercion, or something else.

Gender and Sexuality

 

Gender: Gender is how society thinks individuals should look, think, and act. Society has beliefs and unspoken rules (that can evolve) about how people should act based on gender. For example, many people expect men to be more aggressive than women.

Gender Identity: This refers to how you feel inside about your gender. Your feelings about your gender can emerge early in life, and they can also change throughout your life. It is your personal sense of being a boy, girl, non-binary, two-spirit, agender, or something else entirely. There are many other gender identities that exist!

Gender Expression: This is how you express your gender to others, including your behaviour, clothing, hairstyle, or the name you choose to go by.

Sexual Orientation: This term is used to describe who you are sexually and/or romantically attracted to. A few examples of sexual orientations include lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, questioning, asexual and heterosexual.

Workshop 5

References:

(1) Definition from Moss, S. (). Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Children & Youth in Canada: A Prevention and Early Intervention Toolkit for Parents. Children of the Street Society.

http://www.kristenfrenchcacn.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Parents-Toolkit-on-Sexual-Exploitation-and-Trafficking.pdf

(2)  Modified definition of normalizing violence. Source: WCASA. Social Norms Toolkit: The Normalization of Violence: Explaining the connection between the normalization of violence and sexual assault. (n.d.). Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA).

(3) Definition from Moss, S. (). Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Children & Youth in Canada: A Prevention and Early Intervention Toolkit for Parents. Children of the Street Society.

http://www.kristenfrenchcacn.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Parents-Toolkit-on-Sexual-Exploitation-and-Trafficking.pdf

(4) McGlynn & Rackley. (2016). Image-based Sexual Abuse: More than just ‘Revenge Porn’. University of Birmingham. p.g. 2.

(5) McGlynn & Rackley. (2016). Image-based Sexual Abuse: More than just ‘Revenge Porn’. University of Birmingham. p.g. 2.

(6) Concordia Sexual Assault Resource Centre. n.d. What is Sexual Violence?. Concordia University.

https://www.concordia.ca/conduct/sexual-assault/understanding-sexual-violence.html

(7) Concordia Sexual Assault Resource Centre. n.d. What is Sexual Violence?. Concordia University.

https://www.concordia.ca/conduct/sexual-assault/understanding-sexual-violence.html

(8) Modified from https://www.womenshealth.gov/relationships-and-safety/other-types/sexual-coercion

(9) Concordia Sexual Assault Resource Centre. n.d. What is Sexual Violence?. Concordia University.

https://www.concordia.ca/conduct/sexual-assault/understanding-sexual-violence.html

(10) Concordia Sexual Assault Resource Centre. n.d. What is Sexual Violence?. Concordia University.

https://www.concordia.ca/conduct/sexual-assault/understanding-sexual-violence.html

(11) Concordia Sexual Assault Resource Centre. n.d. What is Sexual Violence?. Concordia University.

https://www.concordia.ca/conduct/sexual-assault/understanding-sexual-violence.html

(12) Harvard Law School Halt: Harassment Assault Law Student Team. (2021). How to Avoid Victim Blaming. Harvard Law School Halt.

References
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