Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski is the founder and director of the Washington Health System Teen Outreach. She responds to 6–8 questions from young people daily and has written 'Ask Mary Jo' since 2005.

Q. If two people start having sex and one person says “stop” and the other person doesn’t listen, is it considered nonconsensual sex? Especially if the person never really said she wanted to, but he just started. But he didn’t hit her or anything like that. And, how do you get someone to stop in the first place if you don’t want to do it? What can I do to stop it from happening to me? This is just hypothetical. Don’t tell anyone.


Mary Jo’s Response: Consent means both people involved in any sexual experience agree to what happens.

Your question has three parts. In your first scenario, yes, it would be considered rape. Please notice my choice of words. Rape is any act of sex done without consent. The term “nonconsensual sex” means rape. Another term for rape is sexual assault. If one person tells another to stop something sexual and the person is not obeyed, the act is rape.

In your second question, you inquire about a person never really wanting to do something sexual and a second person not respectfully finding out if sex was wanted. It doesn’t matter if violence is involved. Unwanted sex is sexual assault and is illegal and wrong.

Your third question is about preventing sexual assault. The only person responsible for preventing sexual assault is the perpetrator – the person who assaults another person.

While I respect your request for confidentiality, I am concerned you may be troubled about the possibility of sexual assault. If you’ve been in a Teen Outreach class, you may remember our class guidelines. We do not share what young people tell us unless the young person is in danger or is a danger to someone else. We also do not share without talking with the young person first. We need to meet to talk about your hypothetical questions. You seem worried. You’re not alone and you won’t get in trouble when we chat.

For more information and a hotline, you can also connect with Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).

RAINN is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline. For more information, call 800-656-HOPE or visit

According to RAINN, on average there are more than 293,000 victims – age 12 or older – of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States. The majority of these crimes are committed by someone the victim knows.

Sexual assault is never the fault of a victim, no matter how a person dresses, where they are when the assault happens, whether or not they are drinking, or if they are alone with someone. Consent is necessary for any sexual contact.

Your questions are important. I’m glad you had the courage to ask them.

Have a question? Send it to Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski’s email

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