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Is Insisting a Form of Assault?

You can express your interest or desire to engage in sexual activities with someone, but if you insist, continue to do something unwanted, or persist when a person says no or shows signs (verbal or non-verbal) that they don’t want to or are unsure, you’re committing a form of harassment.

Insisting can have a number of consequences: it can put unwanted pressure on the other person and make them feel forced to do something, they might end up doing it without really wanting to, they may freeze up, may be doing it just to please you, or because they’re tired of you insisting, or feel trapped in the situation, don’t know how to say no, don’t want to disappoint you or make you angry, etc. By insisting, you may cause the person to feel scared of your reaction, your behaviour, and the possible consequences. For example, they may feel that if they don’t give in that you’ll leave them or ‘look elsewhere’ if they say no. In any of these cases, their consent is not valid. If you insist and the person ends up saying yes because you insisted, it’s considered sexual assault.

Sometimes, you may want to, while the other person does not. It is entirely possible and perfectly normal to look forward to intimate contact and to want to talk about it with the other person. It may be that you really want it, and it may disappoint you, make you sad, etc., when your partner doesn’t want to engage in sexual activity. But it is important to listen to them, respect their boundaries, their pace, and their consent. Your partner is allowed to have their own needs and boundaries. Remember that anyone is allowed to say no at any time.

Staying aware of behaviours and attitudes that can hurt the other person, or make them feel uncomfortable or trapped, allows you to pay close attention to your partner’s consent and make sure you’re respecting it. There are plenty of ways to make sure your partner is consenting freely and enthusiastically 😊 and to make sure it’s a pleasant experience for both of you. It’s much more enjoyable when both people want it!