One of the most important topics when it comes to sex and relationship violence is CONSENT.
Consent is an explicitly communicated, reversible, mutual agreement made when all parties are capable of making that decision.
The “YES!” may or may not be verbal, but it has to be unambiguous and voluntary.
When thinking about consent, there’s two questions you should ask:
- Does the person want to give consent?
- Is the person capable of giving consent?
If the answer to either of those question is anything but a resounding yes, you do not have consent. If you’re not sure if you have consent: ask!
Sex without consent is sexual assault, no matter what preexisting relationship you have with someone.
Sex with consent is the low bar, the minimum standard.
Sex with enthusiastic consent is the gold standard! Enthusiastic consent isn’t just a “Yes,” it’s a “Yes, please, now, yes!”
It’s not just willingness to have sex but wanting to have sex.
Almost no one is interested in having sex with someone who doesn’t want to have sex with them; most of us want our partner to be more than just “willing” to have sex with us, we want them to want to have sex with us!
For some people, that wanting begins long before any sexual contact happens, and they want all different kinds of sexual contact.
For other people, the wanting comes along more gradually. They may be enthusiastic to hold hands or make out or cuddle, but not to do anything else. Their enthusiasm for other kinds of sexual contact may emerge gradually as they become more aroused… or it might not.
If you only engage in behaviors that both people are enthusiastic about, you can’t go wrong.
One more thing about consent:
Sex and love can both be fun, beautiful experiences. They can also be risky, unwelcome, and confusing. They can even be all of those things at the same time. That’s why ambivalence is normal.
But ambivalence—both yes and no—is not consent. “Maybe” means “no.” “Maybe” means wait, and stick with the things you’re both unambivalently enthusiastic about.
|consent IS…||consent IS NOT…|
|An active, ongoing “yes!” between people who want to engage in sexual activity||The absence of a “no”. Just because someone does not say “no” does not mean they are saying “yes!”|
|Communicating every step of the way, every time||Implied or assumed, even in a relationship. Saying “yes!” in the past does not mean “yes!” in the future|
|100% voluntary||When someone is coerced, pressured, forced, or threatened|
|Sober, between adults||Given by someone who doesn’t have the mental or physical capacity to give it (e.g., under the influence of alcohol|
|Everyone involved has willingly agreed on what to do||Silence, passivity, or lack of active response|
|When everyone involved can freely express their needs and wants without being scared of their partners’ reaction||Definitive. Just because someone has said “yes” does not they can’t also say “no” at any given time|
COMPLETE SRV GUIDE:
- What is consent?
- Strategies for preventing SRV
- What sexual assault risk behaviors you may notice
- Campus resources for reporting and responding to reports of SRV ; and
- How to support survivors and cosurvivors of SRV