Defining Consent

Defining consent

Many states now define rape as sexual intercourse without one’s consent.

A sexual act is nonconsensual if it's committed through force, threat, intimidation or against the will of another.

What to Know About Consent:

  • Consent is present when someone by word or by clear, unambiguous action agrees, gives permission or says yes to sexual activity with someone else. It is always freely given and each participant in a sexual situation must feel able to say “yes” or “no” at any point during sexual activity.
  • Consent to one form of sexual activity does not automatically imply consent to other forms of sexual activity.
  • Consent means the participants are both deciding, at the same time, to do something with one another.
  • There are circumstances when consent is given, but it is not valid. Consent is invalid when forced, threatened, intimidated, coerced, when given by a mentally or physically incapacitated person. The usage of alcohol or drugs can render a person incapable of granting consent.
  • Sexual coercion includes strategies used to pressure someone into having sex that may not fall under a legal definition, including emotional manipulation, social status pressure, constant pressure after an initial refusal, use of alcohol to lower inhibitions, and other types of pressure.
  • Each person is responsible for respecting another’s boundaries and for finding out what those boundaries are if they are unclear.
  • “No” means no. Silence and passivity do not equal permission.
  • Consent can be withdrawn at any time.
What to do if you are a victim.