Defining Sexual Consent
What Do We Mean By Consent?
Sexual consent means a person willingly agrees to have sex or engage in a sexual activity – and they are free and able to make their own decision.
Sex without consent is rape or sexual assault, so understanding what consent means really matters.
Consent should always be clear; if there is any doubt you should always stop and ask.
When And How To Ask For Consent
• Always ask for consent before you begin any sexual activity unless you have mutually agreed otherwise — even if your partner consented to that particular activity in the past.
• Ask in a way that makes it clear it would be okay if they said “no” — otherwise you might be pressuring them to do something they don’t want to do. For example, “Do you want to go back to the bedroom or hang out here and watch movies
What Isn't Consent? Debunking Rape Myths
• If someone says nothing, “um… I guess,” or an unsure “yes,” they’re likely communicating that they don’t really want to do the thing you’re asking about.
• In these cases, you don’t have clear consent. Check in with your partner about how they’re feeling — or suggest another activity. For example, “You seem unsure, so why don’t we just watch TV tonight?
"Some women are just asking for it. If you dress a certain way, you are putting yourself at risk"
A person has the right to wear whatever they like - they cannot be blamed for suffering a sexual assault, regardless of their appearance. Rape or sexual assault is never a person’s fault, it is a choice an abuser makes and it is against the law.
"Women who get themselves too drunk are asking for it"
Deciding to drink too much does not mean that a person has also decided to have sex. Remember: having sex with someone who is too intoxicated to give full consent is rape.
“I've had sex with them before, so I can have sex with them again”
If a person is in a relationship with someone or has had sex with them before, this does not mean that they cannot be sexually assaulted or raped by that person. Consent must be given and received every time two people engage in sexual contact and never assumed.
"They said no, but they're just playing hard to get"
No means no! If someone says no, or indicates through their actions that they don’t want to have sex, then they haven’t consented.
"Sometimes a man just gets carried away and can’t stop”
Everyone is responsible for their own behaviour. Respecting someone means never forcing them to engage in a sexual act against their wishes.
"Men don’t get raped and women don’t commit sexual offences”
Anyone can be a victim of sexual violence, and a small percentage of women do perpetrate sexual violence. Often people who’ve been sexually assaulted or abused by a women are particularly fearful that they will not be believed or that their experiences won’t be considered ‘as bad’ as a woman being raped by a man. Both men and women can also be raped and abused in same sex relationships.
Reading Non-Verbal Cues
Pay attention to your partner’s body language. If they pull away, tense up, look uncomfortable, laugh nervously, or are quiet or not responding, you should check in. For example, “You don’t seem too into this. Do you want to stop or take a break?”