Let’s Talk Consent
To mark the launch of The Mix’s Let’s Talk Consent campaign, we look back at our year-long focus on sexual consent and highlight the work we’re doing to end the confusion around consent.
To mark the launch of The Mix’s Let’s Talk Consent campaign (aiming to improve communication skills in the bed or wherever you might be having sex), we look back at our year-long focus on sexual consent.
Back in 2015, we were being bombarded with questions about the legal age of consent. The Mix’s solution was to release a dedicated support article for young people on consent. This quickly became one of our most popular pieces, which has helped over 200,000 people.
As time went on, the conversation in our community changed. We were hearing more discussions about sexual consent. Young people were asking us which situations they could and couldn’t have sex in. We also saw an alarming rise in the number of people asking if they had been raped.
We tackled these issues by creating specific guidelines for safe online spaces where survivors of rape and sexual assault could get help. We mapped out resources that would help educate young people on what consent is and isn’t. We also developed guides explaining when consent is revoked and what to do if it has been.
Getting the balance right was also important. We didn’t put people off sex – we wanted to ensure that young people, who want to have sex, are having a fun and safe time. The Mix’s unique tone and position with young people allowed us to do this.
Thanks to Comic Relief in 2016, The Mix was awarded a grant to take these ideas and make them a reality.
Understanding young people and consent
During the first year of the project, we’ve undertaken several co-creation sessions with under 25s to better understand their sexual behaviours. We’ve helped them gauge their understanding of consent and to identify what help they need to ensure they are having consensual sex.
From these sessions, a few things became very clear. Young people wanted:
- To demystify who a ‘rapist’ is, for example, a rapist is more likely to be someone you know, than someone you don’t
- Help in reading body language and reading non-verbal signs
- Improved confidence with relationships and communication such as knowing how to ask for consent and how to deal with rejection
How The Mix is tackling consent
With these insights, we developed several new services and initiatives. We have:
- Clearly defined what consent legally is and isn’t, and when it can and when it cannot be given.
- Built guides to help read body language and understand when consent has and hasn’t been given in non-verbal ways.
- Worked with survivors of rape and sexual assault to share their real life stories, which aim to help those going through similar situations find support.
We’ve identified new technical solutions to help young people navigate sex, resulting in the build of a new consent related AI chat bot. The bot can respond to many age of consent or sexual consent question a young person might have – at any time online (this will be released over the coming days).
Education is key to helping people understand consent and relationship communication skills. So, we have invested in the creation of online e-learning training courses that young people, and those working with young people, can take to build their skills.
Much of what we have learnt has also influenced how we run many of our own services, such as our online communities (where we have run a series of online consent chats with experts) and our helpline.
In parallel to these new developments, we have also raised awareness about consent and have got more people talking about it.
We have formed a partnership with Hollyoaks – a stalwart among students and young people, to take consent into the mainstream. The soap has dedicated a full storyline (involving a number of characters) to the topic. The Mix, along with Rape Crisis, spent the last year helping Hollyoaks develop the storyline and have collectively looked to both educate and raise awareness about sexual consent.
After the culmination of a year’s work, we released our new multiple-channel campaign: Let’s Talk Consent. We’re hoping to encourage more people to share how they communicate before, during and after sex. The more confident you are with your communications skills, the more likely you are to understand your partner’s wants and needs. And the more talk there is between sexual partners, the more likely you are to be having legal, safe, consensual and fun sex. To kick the campaign off, we’re asking you to share your #PillowTalk.
We’re not done with consent
Consent confusion is unlikely to reduce anytime soon. With the help of Comic Relief, The Mix can continue its work on consent for another year. We will continue to build our online and helpline resources to support survivors. We’ll also continue to work with young people to gather insights on what they need and continue to review our offering – to meet changing demands.
Digital solutions will play a central role in our work. We will invest in innovative and engaging solutions to help reduce the number of rapes and build young people’s understanding and relationship confidence. We want to ensure that young people know how to ask for sex and understand when consent has and hasn’t been given.
Published on 14-Mar-2017
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