Defining Consent

WHAT IS CONSENT?

The expectations of our community regarding sexual misconduct can be summarized as follows: In order for individuals to engage in sexual activity of any type with each other, there must be clear, knowing and voluntary consent prior to and during sexual activity. Consent is sexual permission. Consent can be given by word or action, but non-verbal consent is not as clear as talking about what you want sexually and what you don’t. Consent to some form of sexual activity cannot be automatically taken as consent to any other form of sexual activity.

Silence--without actions demonstrating permission--cannot be assumed to show consent.

Additionally, there is a difference between seduction and coercion. Coercing someone into sexual activity violates this policy in the same way as physically forcing someone into sex. Coercion happens when someone is pressured unreasonably for sex.

Because alcohol or other drug use can place the capacity to consent in question, sober sex is less likely to raise such questions. When alcohol or other drugs are being used, a person will be considered unable to give valid consent if they cannot fully understand the details of a sexual interaction (who, what, when, where, why, or how) because they lack the capacity to reasonably understand the situation. Individuals who consent to sex must be able to understand what they are doing. Under this policy, “No” always means “No,” and “Yes” may not always mean “Yes.” Anything but a clear, knowing and voluntary consent to any sexual activity is equivalent to a “No.”

CONSENT IS:

Mutual – It is active, not passive, and can be withdrawn at any time. Past consent to sexual activities does not imply ongoing future consent and consent for one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity. Silence does not necessarily constitute consent. It is the responsibility of the initiator to obtain consent.

Freely Given – Consent is only possible when there is equal power in the relationship. If coercion, intimidation, or threats of physical force are used, there is no consent. There is no consent when there is force, expressed or implied, or use of duress or deception upon the victim. Whether an individual has taken advantage of a position of influence over an alleged victim may be a factor in determining consent.

Informed – If a person is impaired due to alcohol, drugs, being asleep, unconscious, mentally impaired, or below the age of legal consent, there can be no consent. Such person cannot understand the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual situation; the initiator should know, or reasonably should know, if an individual is incapacitated.

You need consent for every form of sexual activity or you may be responsible for sexual assault, so...

HOW DO I GET CONSENT?

Ask! - "Do you want to have sex?" "How far do you think you'd like to go?" "Are you okay with this?"

Watch! – Look for non-verbal messages, discomfort, lack of eye contact, or not responding.

Listen! – "I want you to..." "I am ready to..." and "I feel the same as you" can be a Yes. Remember that silence is not consent, get the "YES" every time for every act! If someone says, "I'm not ready...." "I don't know..." or "I've had a lot to drink..." STOP.

Remember! – Even if someone says yes, he or she can change their mind at any time. If someone says, "It hurts," "I don't want to do this anymore," or "I want to stop", STOP.