Really not even a decision any more: Late adolescent narratives of implied sexual consent.
ABSTRACT Sexual activity without clear consent, as one aspect of violence against women, is a significant global issue, especially during adolescence when young people are developing their values and beliefs about sexual activity and sexual norms. This narrative inquiry was performed to investigate influences on the sexual decision-making of late adolescents. Ten late adolescent females between the ages of 18 and 22 comprised the final sample. The results included the main finding that in the majority of these adolescents' sexual encounters, sexual consent was implied by the situation instead of being clearly stated. Inability to communicate with partners and the influence of alcohol were identified as contributing factors to implied sexual consent. Additionally, there was a pervasive normalization and acceptance of this type of nonconsensual sexual activity, and no one labeled these actions as rape or assault. IMPLICATIONS: Providers who work with adolescents need to assess sexual behaviors in greater detail and recognize that complex social factors and individual characteristics may contribute to an environment in which adolescents are at risk for nonconsensual sexual activity. Sexual violence education programs need to include information on negotiation and communication skills that will help adolescents mediate complicated interpersonal situations.