California Outlaws Stealthing

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Last week Governor Newsom signed a bill sponsored by Cristina Garcia into law that makes “stealthinga civil offence. California is the first state in the country have this kind of law.

What is stealthing?

Stealthing is a term coined in 2017 for nonconsensual removal of a condom. Stealthing is when someone intentionally and secretly removes a condom during sex and means that the person no longer has consent. Stealthing can be particularly confusing because the sex can start out consensual but as soon as the condom is removed, the person who gave consent is no longer informed about what they are consenting to. Stealthing not only goes against the consent a person has but can put someone at risk of pregnancy or STIs since they are no longer using a condom. If someone consents to removing a condom during sex, then it is not considered stealthing.

What does consent look like?

Remember consent FRIES! Consent needs to be freely given (without force or drugs or alcohol), reversible, informed, enthusiastic, and specific. Just because someone consents to one thing does not mean they consented to other things. If someone does not actively consent, you should stop. Continuing without consent can be considered rape or sexual assault. If you did not give consent and your partner continues, ask them to stop. Leave the situation if needed. If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, find help near you.

What does this new law mean?

The new law makes stealthing a civil offense which means that it is not technically a crime but someone can sue someone else in civil court for stealthing. This new law clarifies the definition of sexual battery to specifically include stealthing.

What happens if someone experiences stealthing?

If you or someone you know has experienced stealthing, there is help available. If someone experiences stealthing or sexual assault, it is not their fault. Also remember that if no birth control was used, you could be at risk of pregnancy. Emergency contraception can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex to prevent a pregnancy. If a condom is removed during sex, you could be at risk for STIs. You can find a clinic near you for STI screening and testing, emergency contraception, and other information about sexual and reproductive health at teensource.org.