A few suggestions to the internet for when you read about a consent violation or even a potential consent violation:
- DO: Recognize any consent incident or violation is complicated and can be placed on a broad spectrum.
- AVOID: Engaging in black/white, either/or thinking around the topic.
- DO: Offer support to the people involved. Dealing with this, especially when it is made public, is hard.
- AVOID: Stating an opinion when you don’t know all the details or facts.
- DO: Recognize only the person whose consent has been violated gets to determine if and how much that incident impacted them. It is their right to decide how they want to deal with it.
- AVOID: Defining how other people should feel or what their intent was in a given situation.
- DO: Talk about issues of consent on your own feed/wall/blog/etc. These are important things to talk about and to share ideas on.
- AVOID: Engaging in debate about an idea in a place where someone is talking about their personal experience, seeking support, or asking for help.
- DO: Ask yourself before making a public statement whether or not someone will be harmed, or if the risk of harm will be increased. Remember, real people are on the other side of the comments you’re making.
- AVOID: Shaming or threatening people simply because you disagree with them.
- DO: Encourage people to seek support, get help, and better educate themselves about consent.
- AVOID: Criticizing anyone for wanting to learn, grow, or change.
- DO: Recognize if we want people to come forward, either as someone who has had their consent violated or as someone who violated another’s consent, we need to support them in doing so, both emotionally and logistically. We need structures where they can get emotional support, education, and good consultation.
- AVOID: Thinking this process is simple or easy.
- DO: Encourage organizations you work with to develop, use, and improve consent policies and procedures.
- AVOID: Ignoring this critically important issue.
- DO: If your consent has been violated, it is important you come forward and talk about it. Recognize doing so publicly, at this current time, has risks and stigma attached to it. Find a therapist, friend, or confidant who can support you in talking about what happened. If it happened at a party, gathering, or event, find out if that organization has a procedure for reporting it and talk to them, if you feel doing so is the right thing for you.
- DO: If you have violated someone’s consent it is also important you come forward and talk about it. Recognize doing so publicly, at this current time, has risks and stigma attached to it. Find a therapist, friend, or confidant who can support you in talking about what happened. Get help to make an honest apology, receive appropriate education, and figure out how to make amends for the harm caused. It’s never easy to admit you hurt someone, but it is the right thing to do.