It’s never a bad time to go over—once again—consent. And of course, like many things in this world, we turn to Black women to show us the way.

With our sisters bearing the brunt of another pandemic, one of sexual misconduct and abuse, ESSENCE tapped two experts to lead an important conversation about what is consent exactly, and how women deserve more support when they’re coming forward with their stories.

Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis, a licensed psychologist and sexual assault survivor, dropped this gem: “If you are unsure if someone is giving you their consent, it is better to stop.”

“What a lot of times men and boys are taught is trickery,” she said before going into some of the ways men coerce women into situations they don’t want to be in, such as giving a woman a lot of alcohol or pursuing someone who is clearly intoxicated.

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Consent is very clear though, she noted, and if you haven’t gotten a “yes” under the appropriate conditions, it’s a no.

Additionally, because of the amount of time children are spending at home, there has unfortunately been a spike in sexual abuse cases. Work and school helped curb the number of young people who were having to deal with these horrific scenarios at home. ESSENCE’s news and politics editor Tanya Christian spoke with trauma therapist Dr. Anita Phillips, who spoke about the increase in child abuse reports during the pandemic.

“This is one of the horrific, unintended side affects of the stay-home order,” Phillips said during the conversation. “People are locked in their home, and not everybody’s home is safe. And so, children and young people under the age of 18 are confined in their homes with their abusers.”

Both experts made a point to mention RAINN, (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network,) the “nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization,” according to their site. RAINN is working to provide solidarity with young abuse victims, especially during this trying time.

Watch the full conversation above and donate to RAINN here.


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