For a time, I was angry and full of hatred at someone who had used and exploited me so coldly and ruthlessly, whose action had culled me to my knees. I was barely left standing. My spiritual teacher and yogis (including my partner) tells me to meditate, let go, move on. But I still struggled for the best part of a year with the sense of injustice. Until someone – my psychologist at The Priory, London, and he is also a psychiatrist, a fully qualified doctor, not just a PhD – told me, “YOU allowed it to happen. It couldn’t have happened for two years without your consent.”
Indeed, I had not said NO, and the other party took the absence of NO as a yes, and in that effect, I suffered two years of shoddy treatment. But as my psychologist pointed out, I had allowed it to happen.
Teaching children consent is so important.
Apart from emotional consent, there is also physical consent. I think sex education in school should focus on that, namely children should feel empowered to say NO when it comes to their bodies, and conversely they should learn that the absence of a NO does not automatically mean yes.
I remember once someone saying this to me in the moment of passion, “You have to tell me now if you want to stop”. Previous to that, this beautiful man had said to me, “We can do anything YOU want.” I hold him in very high esteem and thank his parents for teaching him well.
In 2014, Project Consent was founded to address the rape culture that exists in society. You can watch the three cute videos with a strong message on Playground’s website by clicking here (image from Playground):
Six ways of teaching consent to children:
- Don’t force children to kiss and cuddle your friends if they don’t want to.
- Respect their NO when it comes to food choices – give them a list of food that they are allowed to say NO to (see Six ways of raising unfussy eaters and Of fussy-eaters and two way respect)
- Allow children their space when they have a meltdown – don’t force them to Listen, Listen, Listen!
- Talk to children so that you know where they are emotionally – what are they frightened of and why?
- Teach them how to develop their own boundaries – what feels right for them?
- Let them know that they are allowed to say NO. The choice is always theirs.
As my 16-yearold said so succinctly, “It’s MINE!”
You can join project consent here to make a difference.