The act of knowingly, actively and voluntarily agreeing explicitly to engage in sexual activity. Consent must be freely given and can be withdrawn at any time.
- Not coerced
- The absence of "no" does not mean "yes"
- It must be asked every step of the way
- It cannot be implied or assumed, even in the context of a relationship
Circumstances in which a person CANNOT legally give consent:
(No matter what he or she might verbalize):
- The person is severely intoxicated or unconscious as a result of alcohol or drugs
- The person is physically or developmentally disabled
- Once a person says "no." It doesn't matter if sexual behavior has happened in the past, or what kind of activity has occurred in the current event, earlier that day, or daily for the past six months. It does not matter if it is a current long-term relationship, a broken relationship, or marriage. If one partner says, "no," and the other forces penetration, it is rape.
- The victim is under the age 13 or is elderly
If consent is not obtained prior to each act of sexual behavior (from kissing to intercourse), it is not consensual sex.
The Perks of Consent
Asking for and obtaining consent...
- Shows that you have respect for both yourself and your partner
- Enhances communication, respect, and honesty, which make sex and relationships better
- Gives the ability to know and communicate about the type of sexual relationship you want
- Aids in protecting yourself and your partner against STIs and pregnancy
- Provides the opportunity to acknowledge that you and your partner(s) have sexual needs and desires
- Allows for you to identify personal beliefs and values and respect your partner's personal beliefs and values
- Builds confidence and self-esteem
- Promotes positive views on sex and sexuality
- Is empowering
- Eliminates the entitlement that one partner might feel over another
- Challenges stereotypes that rape is a women's issue
- Challenges sexism and traditional views on gender and sexuality
How to know if the person you're with has given consent:
The only way to know for sure if someone has given consent is if they tell you. One of the best ways to determine if someone is uncomfortable with any situation, especially with a sexual one, is to simply ask. Here are some examples of the questions you might ask:
- Is there anything you don't want to do?
- Are you comfortable?
- Do you want to stop?
- Do you want to go further?
Recognizing Non-Verbal Communication
Remember, an absence of "no" does not mean "yes." Here are some ways that your partner's body language can let you know that you do NOT have consent:
- Not responding to your touch
- Pushing you away
- Holding their arms tightly around their bodies
- Turning away from you or hiding their face
- Stiffening muscles
Are things moving too quickly?
If you are starting to feel uncomfortable, you always have the right to slow things down or stop altogether. Here are things you could say to let your partner know that you don't want to go any further:
- I don't want to go any further than kissing, hugging, touching
- Can we stay like this for a while?
- Can we slow down?
Below are some things you can say or do if you want to stop:
- I want to stop
- I'm not comfortable doing this anymore
- That's enough for now
- I need to go to the bathroom