Changing the rules
‘Stealthing’ is a big issue that can have huge effects for those affected by it.
'Stealthing' is when someone takes off their condom during sex without telling their partner. Removing a condom without telling your intimate other is a betrayal of their trust, and shows how even if you try and be responsible, you can't control someone else being deceitful.
It also highlights a host of issues regarding consent...
Sex is meant to be a consensual agreement between two people. You and your partner decide what things you are comfortable doing when having sex; part of that may be using a condom.
By removing the condom without their knowledge, you are changing the terms in which they agreed to have sex with you. Don't get it twisted; this doesn't have to be a formal arrangement. If your partner asks you to use a condom, then that is their way of telling you that they are ONLY willing to have sex with you under these conditions.
Taking off a condom changes EVERYTHING! You are now forcing someone to have sex with you in a way that they never agreed to. That is straight up wrong. It puts their sexual health at risk, exposes them to the dangers of unplanned pregnancy, and also undermines the freedom they have over their own body.
What to do if this happens to you...
If someone has removed a condom during sex without your permission, then there are still things that you can do! The following steps are a good starting point:
Having sex without condom puts your sexual health in danger. Being tested for HIV and STIs is important, as your personal health has now been put at risk by your partner.
- Pregnancy test:
If you are not on a long-term contraceptive, then you are at risk of falling pregnant. Having a pregnancy test and visiting your local clinic can help you establish whether or not you are pregnant, and what steps you need to take to deal with your newfound situation if you are in fact pregnant.
- Speak out:
'Stealthing' can be a traumatic experience. You shouldn't have to suffer in silence; tell your friends, family or anyone else you feel comfortable enough to share your experience with. If you would rather speak to someone that you don't know personally, then the Mirabel Centre can offer additional support during this difficult period.
- Get counselling:
As well as your sexual and reproductive health, 'stealthing' can leave it's mark on someone psychologically or emotionally too. If you need help, then speaking to a medical professional in your local clinic can be a good starting point, who can then point you in the right direction to those who can provide you more support.
- Check your partner:
It's important to let your partner know straight up that what they did is unacceptable. If not, they may not realise the consequences of their actions, or what a serious impact they can have on someone's life. Set it out clearly so there's no confusion: 'Stealthing' means that they are endangering your sexual, reproductive, mental and emotional health. Added to that, it changes the conditions in which you agreed to have sex and is a violation of your personal freedom over your body. Call them out and let them know that taking off a condom without your consent is not going to slide.
Despite all of the issues surrounding the topic of 'stealthing', it remains a 'grey area' in regards to the law in different countries, but there have already been cases brought against people for 'stealthing', which have lead to convictions for rape.
Charities have been leading the charge to have stronger laws against this practice, and having it legally declared a form of 'rape'.
There's no two ways about it; 'stealthing' is WRONG. Having an open discussion about this issue, and establishing that it is always unacceptable is important. We need to understand the sexual and reproductive dangers posed by this worrying practice, and declare that this is a personal violation of someone's freedom over their body and health.
Whether 'stealthing' is considered rape or sexual assault under the law or not should not stop us from coming together and declaring that 'stealthing' has deeply negative consequences on individuals personal, sexual and reproductive well-being.