Sexual activity, of any kind, requires consent prior to and during the sexual activity. Obtaining consent from all sexual partners is crucial in order to prevent sexualized violence.
Consent is defined as positive, unambiguous, voluntary and on-going agreement to engage in a specific activity. Consent must be freely and affirmatively given. Consent cannot be obtained from someone through coercion or from someone who is unconscious, asleep, or whose judgment is impaired by the use of a drug or alcohol, or diminished by an intellectual, mental or physical condition or disability.
Keys to understanding Consent
Consent is active and given by words and/or obvious acts.
Consent is not silence; communication is necessary.
Consent is freely given; if you tell someone that he/she has to have sex with you or you bully them into having sex with you that is coercion and you don't have consent.
Consent is right now; it doesn’t matter if the two of you had sex yesterday or last week, or if you are dating or were dating; prior consent does not equal present consent.
Consent is for a particular act: If someone agrees to cuddling and kissing it does not mean he/she consents to anything else. You have to make sure you have consent for every sexual act that takes place.
What if someone is drunk, high, or out of it?
Drugs and alcohol can affect people’s ability to make decisions, including whether or not they want to be sexual with someone else. This means that if someone is really out of it, they cannot give consent. Being with them in a sexual way when they don’t know what is going on is the same as sexual assault.
How can you tell if someone isn't into it?
The best way is to ASK:
- Is there anything you don’t want to do?
- Are you comfortable?
- Do you want to stop?
- Do you want to go further?
Also be aware of body language that can let you know if the person you’re with is not comfortable with what is happening:
- Not responding to you
- Pushing you away
- Holding their arms tightly around their bodies
- Turning away from you or hiding their face
Is it Coercion?
Sexual coercion is Intimidation, physical or psychological threat, or pressure used to force another to engage in sexual acts.
If someone does any of the following to get you to engage in sex, he or she could be pressuring or coercing you:
- Holding you down
- Guilt trips
- Getting you drunk or high
Am I Being Sexually Coerced?
If something like this has been said to you to get you to have sex, you may be experiencing sexual coercion:
- “We’ve had sex before, so you can’t say no now.”
- "If you LOVE me, you'll have sex with me."
- "You know you want it."
- "Don't make me stop now."
- “You’re a tease.”
Sometimes, it's really hard to identify if you've been, or are being, sexually coerced but if you can answer yes to any of these questions you may be experiencing sexual coercion:
- Are there times you don’t want to have sex but you feel like you can’t say no?
- Do you feel that you don’t have a choice to have sex?
- Are you being pressured constantly to have sex, even after you say “no.”?
- Have you ever had a sexual experience that left you angry, scared or feeling guilty?
- Has someone used their authority or power to get you to engage in sexual behaviors?
How to Fight Sexual Coercion:
If you feel uncomfortable trust your feelings and know your limits.
Speak your mind and respect yourself. If someone is using sexual pressure on you say no. You could say:
- "I like you, but I'm not ready to have sex with you."
- "If you care for me, you'll respect that I don't want to have sex now."
- “I don't owe you an explanation or anything."
- "Dinner doesn't mean sex - what are we, in the 1950's?"
Leave immediately and get help if you need it.
Avoid alcohol and other drugs because they can:
- Mess up your judgment
- Make it harder to resist both physically and emotionally
- Make the other person more aggressive
- Make you black out