What is Consent?

2 April 2018, 11:05am

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and we all can take an active role in reducing the number of people impacted by sexual assault. 


Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 67 men in the US have experienced rape or attempted rape in their lifetime.  One way we can make change is by talking about consent in our relationships, and with others – including youth.

Consent is an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity.  Verbal communication with the other person is the best way to know if you have consent.  These conversations are important to have before every sexual activity.  Giving consent for one activity, one time, does not mean consent is given for increased or recurring sexual contact.  Consent can also be withdrawn at any moment and can not be present if fear is. To ensure consent is reached, both people are agreeing to each sexual activity, every single time.

Without consent, sexual activity is sexual assault. 


Consent is:

  • Freely given. It is a choice made without pressure, manipulation, or drugs or alcohol.

  • Enthusiastic. When it comes to sex, each person should only do stuff they


WANT to do, not things they feel expected to do.  Silence is not consent.

  • Specific. Saying yes to one thing (like kissing) doesn’t mean saying yes to others (like having sex).  

Positive consent can look like this:

  • Communicating when you change the type or degree of sexual activity with phrases like “Is this OK?”

  • Explicitly agreeing to certain activities, either by saying “yes” or another affirmative statement, like “I’m open to trying.”

  • Using physical cues to let the other person know you’re comfortable taking things to the next level.

It does NOT look like this:

  • Refusing to acknowledge “no.”

  • Assuming that wearing certain clothes, flirting, or kissing is an invitation for anything more.

  • Someone being under the legal age of consent, as defined by the state.

  • Someone being incapacitated because of drugs or alcohol.

  • Pressuring someone into sexual activity by using fear or intimidation.

  • Assuming you have permission to engage in a sexual act because you’ve done it in the past.

  • Silence is not consent.


From the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).

CARDV's 24-hour Crisis & Support Lines is available for survivors of sexual assault and their allies: (541) 754-0110 or (800) 927-0197.

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