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What is the difference between

“Consent” and “Compliance”?


The most often cited defense in offenders accused of raping or sexually assaulting an adult or an older (teenage) juvenile is that the victim was “consenting” to the sexual contact.  Consent is the issue as to whether the victim indicated that they did or did not want to engage in that sexual conduct with the offender.  There is no burden on a victim to have to tell someone “No” or to “stop”.  A person who is not consenting to sexual contact only needs to indicate in some manner that they do not wish to engage in that contact.  The “no” can be something as simple as a physical gesture.  


Also, it is important to understand that people who are of a certain young age, are not legally allowed to consent to sexual conduct.  It is also important to note that when fear is present, consent is not.  Also, when threats or coercion is present, consent is not.  And when someone is intoxicated or incapacitated in any manner, they are not legally capable of giving consent for sexual contact.


In many cases of child sexual abuse, it will appear that a child or an older (teenage) juvenile is somehow “agreeing to” or “going along with” the sexual advances of the offender.  This is not “consent”.  This is “compliance”.  The distinction is that a compliant victim is going along with the sexual advances as a means of self-preservation or due to severe manipulation and grooming.  It is a type of accommodation behavior in the child to protect them from any danger associated with refusing to engage in the sexual conduct with the offender.


A “compliant” victim is not a “consenting” sexual partner.  It is important to recognize and define the difference.


If you or someone you know is experiencing or has experienced this type of abuse, please contact your local CPS and Law Enforcement today.  


Or contact the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453).


It is typically mandatory under the law in any state, that these things be immediately reported to law enforcement once a disclosure of sexual abuse is made by any person.  Failure to do so and act protectively for a child may be a crime depending on the circumstances.  Even if you or someone else was the victim of sexual abuse as a child, and the victim is an adult today, you should still report it to the authorities.

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