‘Stealthing’: Why Non-consensual Condom Removal Is A Big Deal (And What To Do If You’re A Victim Of It)

May 30, 2021
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‘Stealthing’: Why Non-consensual Condom Removal Is A Big Deal (And What To Do If You’re A Victim Of It)

“Stealthing” or non-consensual condom removal, is when one person secretly and purposefully removes the condom during intercourse, while their partner has only consented to condomprotected sex. Victims of stealthing are exposed to potential pregnancy and STIs, unbeknownst to them—selfishly for their partner’s increased pleasure or thrill. In countries like Canada and Germany, stealthing is punishable by law and is regarded as a form of sexual assault, akin to rape.

The concept of stealthing is definitely not new, but the term for this practice has been used since 2014 by the gay community. Either way, it’s still a big deal and a form of sexual abuse. In adolescent relationships, condom negotiation is often silenced by male partners—partially due to a lack of knowledge in negotiating in this area, a feeling of obligation and the fear of the condom-wearer’s response. To prevent this from happening in the first place, it’s important that gay and straight males are taught that wearing a condom is beneficial for them as well.

A recent study in the U.S. found that “10% of young male non-problem drinkers reported having engaged in nonconsensual condom removal since the age of 14. Men who had engaged in this behavior reported higher rates of STI diagnoses and partners with unplanned pregnancies than men who had not engaged in nonconsensual condom removal.”1 In another recent study of young adult women, “12% reported that they had experienced nonconsensual condom removal by a male partner, while none of the participants reported engaging in nonconsensual condom removal themselves”.

While the majority of stealthing is practiced my men, it needs to also be noted that it is possible for females to also ‘stealth’ their partners, by removing or damaging the condom without their partner’s consent.

So, what to do if you are a victim of stealthing?

Many victims report feelings of betrayal and a violation of trust—and most importantly, it is never the victim’s fault. In 2018, a man was found guilty of sexual assault in Germany's first conviction for stealthing; but in neighboring Switzerland, the supreme court disagreed—saying that it was regretfully, not illegal.

So basically, when it comes to the legal action you can take as a victim, it really depends on the country you are in. If you want to press charges, go to a nearby rape crisis unit where they can collect physical evidence. Even if pressing charges isn’t an option, you can still file a civil case. Either way, we must take matters into our own hands by getting tested, removing harmful relationships from our lives, practicing open communication and always expressing boundaries. Oftentimes the mental health ramifications are the greatest, in which case—try not to withdraw. Seek guidance from a friend, rape crisis hotline or mental professional.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of stealthing and don’t know where to turn,
the National Sexual Violence Resource Center or the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline are great
resources.

 

 

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