If you begin having sex in the great state of North Carolina, want to stop, and your partner forcibly restrains you to continue having intercourse, well, you should have made up your mind beforehand. Once you’ve initially consented to the act, you relinquish the right to your own body, according to a 1979 state Supreme Court ruling: “no rape has occurred though the victim later withdraws consent during the same act of intercourse.” If your partner ignores your pleas to get off you or causes physical injury to keep you from leaving, that’s still just not rape.

In effect, this is a court decision legalizing rape.

Using this ruling, a district attorney recently decided to drop a rape case against a high school football player, which brought this disturbing state of affairs to light. As Cara at The Curvature points out, there are additional issues with this particular failure to prosecute sexual assault charges, because the victim told reporters that she never agreed to have sex with her boyfriend in the first place. Regardless of this additional dimension of wrongfully ignoring the accusations of rape survivors (a not unusual practice in law enforcement), the rationale utilized to dismiss the case exposes a major legal problem. Even if you accept that the victim withdrew consent, the law says that’s just kosher.


Saying a woman cannot withdraw consent after she has begun having sex is mere steps away from saying she can’t refuse to have sex if they’re already naked, or she had started making out, or she was in a relationship with the rapist. Whether a woman simply decides she doesn’t want to continue having sex, or if the sex is violent and she wants to put a stop to it, that is a human right that she doesn’t release the moment she lets a penis penetrate her. The idea that a case in which the victim says she repeatedly said no and sustained physical injuries, suggesting that she attempted to fight the perpetrator off, would be considered by law to be totally acceptable and an act not rape seems like something out of the Twilight Zone.

The young victim’s father is contacting state legislators in an attempt to make certain that other people’s daughters won’t have their rape charges dismissed under this pro-rape policy. Help him protect the daughters of North Carolina by signing this petition asking North Carolina legislators to pass legislation clarifying that when consent is withdrawn, that is always rape.

Photo credit: taberandrew