By Whitney Akers, See the Triumph Contributor
What would you think or say if I claimed that a married or partnered individual can be raped by their spouse or partner? Many people balk at this statement, but it is true. If sex is not consensual, if sex is against someone’s want or will, regardless of relationship status, this is rape. Sexual violence can and does occur within intimate partner relationships. Just because you may be in an intimate and committed relationship, you are not granted unconditional access to your partner without their consent, nor are they granted unconditional access to you without yours. Regardless of how deep your love may be, how long you have been together, and how sexual you have been throughout your life, your voice and body remain your own. Your deep love, commitment, and sexuality will only strengthen as you treasure your right to your body and your partner’s right to theirs.
We maintain the commitment to share a life with another person by honoring and respecting our honest voices, whether our voices are saying “yes” or “no” or stating parameters of sex (i.e. condom usage, verbal check-ins, safe and comfortable positions). Healthy communication about sex, needs, and boundaries can break the silence surrounding sexual violence within committed relationships and enrich a relationship’s safety, connection, and passion. Considering that open dialogue is counter to abuse, what can each of us do to increase and strengthen the openness of our conversations with loved ones?
Open communication with loved ones first requires openness with and trust of the self. When we are asked for sexual connection, let us first check-in with our minds, bodies, and hearts to explore if that type of connection is what the SELF desires in the moment. Know that your and your partner’s needs for connection are very real and deserving of honoring, and also know that if you do not want to have sex, that connection can be honored in many other ways that will still maintain your sense of self and safety. Validate the emotions you may have and empower yourself in refraining from ignoring your own needs.
After examining and claiming that internal voice, we can begin to have these conversations with others. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog on empowering your voice by stating your needs aloud to enhance effective communication skills with loved ones.