Your body belongs to you. Only you can decide what to do with it. If someone wants to touch you sexually, they need your consent.
Consent is giving permission without fear, force, fraud and having the capacity to do so. It doesn’t have to be verbal, but it needs to be real, obvious, and ongoing. Consent only lasts as long as you want it to. You can change your mind and say “no” at any time. Your sexual partner must respect your consent. If you say “no”, they have to stop. If they don’t, they are committing sexual assault or rape.
Giving consent one time, for one sexual activity, is not giving consent every time, for all sexual activities. This means that you need consent, even if you’ve had sex with the person before. Whether you’re in a relationship, married or have just met the person, you still need consent.
Just because someone agreed to kiss you doesn’t mean they agree to let you take their clothes off. Just because they slept with you last week, doesn’t mean they’ll have sex with you today.
Consent is about communication. There are many ways to get and give consent, and not all of them are verbal. The most obvious way to get consent is to ask. Here are some things you might say if you’re in the heat of the moment:
Consent can be nonverbal too. If your partner uses physical cues—like nodding, or guiding your hands—you can be confident that they give their consent. If they push you away, they don’t consent.
It makes sense that if a person is asleep, unconscious, or very intoxicated, they can’t give their consent. Legally, they can’t give their consent if they’re under 16 either. This is known as the ‘age of consent’. It is also illegal for someone over 18 to have sexual contact with someone under the age of 18, if the older person holds a position of trust—such as a teacher or social worker.
There’s #NoGreyZone. Get consent and you’ll be on the right side of the law. Better yet, you’ll be showing your partner the respect they deserve. Just remember consent is like tea