What is Consent?

  • Consent is defined as permission to act. It may be given by words or actions, so long as those words or actions create clear, mutually understood permission to engage in sexual activity. 
    A. Consent means a knowing, voluntary and affirmatively communicated willingness to participate in a particular sexual activity or behavior.  Only a person who has the ability and capacity to exercise free will and make a rational, reasonable judgment can give consent.  Consent may be expressed either by words and/or actions, as long as those words and/or actions create a mutually understandable agreement to engage in specific sexual activity.
    It is the responsibility of the person who wants to engage in sexual activity to ensure that he/she has consent from the other party, and that the other party is capable of providing consent.  The lack of protest or resistance is not consent.  Nor may silence, in and of itself, be interpreted as consent.  For that reason, relying solely on non-verbal communication can lead to misunderstanding.  Previous relationships, including past sexual relationships, do not imply consent to future sexual acts.
    Consent to one form of sexual activity cannot automatically imply consent to other forms of sexual activity.
    Consent must be present throughout sexual activity and may be withdrawn at any time.  If there is confusion as to whether there is consent or whether prior consent has been withdrawn, it is essential that the participants stop the activity until the confusion is resolved.
    Consent cannot be obtained by use of physical force, threats, intimidating behavior or coercion.  Coercion is pressuring another person into sexual activity.
    It is a violation to engage in sexual activity with someone you know, or should know, is incapacitated.  Incapacitated, means the person’s decision-making ability is impaired such that they lack the capacity to understand the who, what, where, why or how of their sexual interaction.  Incapacitation may result from:  sleep or unconsciousness, temporary or permanent mental or physical disability, involuntary physical restraint, or the influence of alcohol, drugs, medication or other substances used to facilitate sexual misconduct.
    • Active, not passive. Silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as consent. There is no requirement that an individual resist a sexual act or advance, but resistance is a clear demonstration of non-consent. 

    • Given freely. A person cannot give consent under force, threats, or unreasonable pressure (coercion). Coercion includes continued pressure after an individual has made it clear that he/she does not want to engage in the behavior. 

    • Provided knowingly. Legally valid consent to sexual activity cannot be given by:  A person under the legal age of 18 or an individual who is known to be (or based on the circumstances should reasonably be known to be) mentally or physically incapacitated. An incapacitated individual is someone who cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because he or she lacks the capacity to understand the “who, what, when, where, why, or how” of a sexual interaction. This includes a person whose incapacity results from mental disability, sleep, involuntary physical restraint, unconsciousness, use of alcohol or other drugs. 

    • Specific permission to engage in one form of sexual activity does not imply permission for another activity. In addition, previous relationships or prior consent do not imply consent to future sexual acts. It is the responsibility of the initiator of the act to receive permission for the specific act. As a result, consent may be requested and given several times by multiple parties during a sexual encounter involving multiple acts. 


Cup of Tea Consent Video

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