What is Consent?
Consent is clear, positive, freely given and ongoing agreement.
- Clear: consent is expressed in a way that is understandable to the people involved.
- Positive (or affirmative): consent is an active decision about wants and desires, not a passive assumption.
- Freely given (or voluntary): consent cannot be forced. If you threaten someone into doing something sexual, that is not consent.
- Ongoing: consent can end at any time. If someone has consented to sex, and then decides that they want to stop, you must stop.
Do You Have Consent?
If you want to engage in sexual activity, it is your responsibility to make sure that you have the other person’s consent — each time and for every activity.
Things to consider:
- Does everyone involved agree to engage in the sexual activity?
- Consent can be verbal (saying yes, talking about what you want to do) or nonverbal (nodding, smiling, touching).
- Is the agreement clear? Consent must be clearly communicated — you must know that the person wants to do the sexual activity.
- If you cannot tell whether a person wants to do the activity with you, ask first. It’s your responsibility to have clear consent from your partner.
- It is better to ask a question (even if it’s embarrassing or awkward) than to assault someone.
- Is anyone unable to consent?
- Alcohol and drugs (prescription or illegal) can influence people so that they are unable to make intentional choices or clearly agree to sexual activity.
- People who are drunk, high, passed out or asleep cannot consent.
- It is better to wait until everyone is sober (even if that is frustrating) than to assault someone.
- Is the consent ongoing?
- If the person changes their mind, or does not want to move from one type of sexual activity to another, then you do not have consent to keep going.
- Was there any force, threat, or coercion? If you threaten someone into sexual activity and they do it, that is still not consent. Remember, consent must be given freely.
- Silence or lack of resistance does not equal consent. Consent must be affirmative: not just passive, but an active agreement.
- During a traumatic experience, such as attempted rape, people often shut down, so that they cannot fight back or say no. This does not mean that they consented.
- Past consent does not imply future consent. Just because someone has had sex with you in the past does not mean that they want to have sex with you in the future.
- Consent with one person does not equal consent with anyone else. Just because a person has done a sexual activity with someone does not mean that they will do it with you or anyone else.
You can file a report for someone else, anonymously, or using a pseudonym.