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Boundaries and consent

Sex is based on equality and good communication where the longing of both parties is respected. It is never OK to beg or force someone to have sex, whether we are in a relationship or not. Both persons need to feel OK talking about their boundaries. By making fun of other people‘s needs, saying they are silly, or react in an awkward way is disrespecting them.

Consent for sex is very important and necessary for everyone to feel good. But what exactly is consent?

  • To talk about what we want and listen to the other person, before, during, and after.
  • To ask for permission instead of assuming that it‘s ok to do something.
  • To continue asking the person what they like and what they want to do, even if you‘ve slept together before. Sometimes people like different things.
  • Consent can be with words or physical expression. If the other person is silent, uncertain, or says „maybe“ – that is not consent.
    Samþykki felur í sér að hinn aðilinn sé meðvitaður. Sofandi, mjög drukkið eða meðvitundarlaust fólk getur ekki veitt samþykki. // Consent also means that the other person is conscious. People who are sleeping or unconscious cannot give their consent.

You are not respecting boundaries if:

  • You pressure the other person into doing something that they don‘t want to do, for example by threatening or making that person feel guilty.
  • Make the other person feel like they owe you sex or sexual behavior, if you gave them a gift, did them a favour or asked them out on a date.
  • Ignores boundaries that have been set/demonstrated, for example, if the person moves away from you or pushes you away.

It doesn‘t matter if the person told you something else before – people have the right to change their minds. Rape is defined by consent. This means that any form of sexual behaviour is rape if there is no consent. Therefore consent is a key element in any sexual context.

Pornography can blur the lines between sex and sexual abuse.

Have you considered how pornography affects your expectations of sex? Or if pornography influences how we look at our own bodies? Can it be that pornography muds the boundaries and influence the demands young people to express to their partner?

Sexual harassment

If we overstep someone‘s intimate boundaries – that is sexual harassment. Sometimes it is hard to understand whether sexual harassment is the case but it is the feeling of the victim that determines it. That means the behavior is unwelcomed and not consented to by the one who is harassed. Despite we may think something is appropriate or funny, it doesn't mean others feel the same way. We should never someone sexual gestures unless there is consent at hand.

Examples of sexual harassment can be:

- Sexual comments or jokes

- sending sexual photographs

- persistent invitations for a date

- whistling or hooting

- groping

Sexting and sexual photographs

If we send sexual content to a person without consent, it is sexual abuse. It can be photos, videos, or written text. The same applies to sharing that kind of content without consent, record without consent, or force without consent. All the above is subject to a criminal offense.

It is important to be on the same page when it comes to sexual photos and messages and respects each other‘s boundaries. Don‘t pressure the other person or send something they don‘t expect. The other person needs to decide to participate in sexual, online communication. Even if you like having that communication, you also have to respect the rights of others to make their own decisions.

Myths about people who abuse

Those who rape and abuse are most often not "monsters" but they are normal people, often close to us. Perpetrator- and victim care workers assert that rape culture and abuse won't be eliminated unless focusing on the perpetrators and create a culture in which they can and need to take responsibility for their actions.

Legal consequences

If you sexually abuse it can result in a police matter. Rape and child abuse is considered one of the most serious crimes in Iceland, second in line with manslaughter. Their consequences can leave a mark on them for life.

What is categorized as sexual violation are violations that relate to sexual freedom, for example, rape, a sexual violation against children, digital sexual abuse, and shaming violations like groping, vulgar speech, stripping, and peeking.

Investigation

The investigation depends on the circumstances and the nature of the case. Rape and shaming violations can greatly vary. Children under the age of 15 are legally not considered defendants.

Rape violation

At first, the victim is interviewed to shed light on what happened. Then the police gather information about the scene, the violation, and who the perpetrator is. It could lead to your arrest to prevent you from contaminating evidence. What follows is an interrogation and there you have the right of a lawyer who can be present during the interrogation.

If the violation recently happened, you will have to undertake a forensic and/or medical examination. Blood samples are made or other samples of hair or genitals, samples under nails, and other injuries.

The next step in the investigation is the examination of the scene, gathering witness testimonies other evidence. Often the evidence is footage from surveillance cameras and online communication with the victim, before and after the violation.

There is also a chance of your house being searched, despite it not being the scene of the violation. That could include your laptop and phone, which are done to gather evidence to support the investigation. The police may decide to investigate the case further even if the victim decides to withdraw charges or refuses to cooperate.

The end of a case

When the police investigate a case, it can conclude in two ways:

1. Case dropped.

The police could decide to stop the investigation if there are not enough grounds to continue. If the police finish the investigation and forward it to the prosecutor, the prosecutor can still decide to terminate the case if there is insufficient evidence to convict.

2. Charged.

If your case is likely to be convicted, a formal charge is presented. Then it is your duty to appear before District Court and state your case. After the judicial procedure, a verdict is presented. It can either be guilty or not guilty. Charged guilty of sexual abuse can lead to a suspended or unsuspended sentence along with a compensation payment.

Resources

Taktu skrefið

Taktu skrefið (Take the step) is a group of psychologists that help people that are worried about their sexual behaviour or have sexually abused someone.

Heimilisfriður

Heimilisfriður offers therapy for people who have abused someone in a close relationship.

1717

The Red Cross Helpline 1717 is a dedicated phone and webchat for those who need someone to talk to in confidentiality. They are open 24 hours, and it's free to call.