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Sexual Violence and Relationship Violence

What is Consent?

To understand what constitutes Sexual Violence and Relationship Violence, it may be helpful to understand Consent:

Consent is defined as a clear expression of permission to a sexual act. Consenting persons must act freely, voluntarily, and have knowledge of the act involved.

Consent will not be implied by silence, mere passivity, from a state of intoxication or unconsciousness. Lack of consent is implied if there is a threat of violence, if violence is in fact used, or if the accused has taken advantage of a position of influence which that person has over the victim.

Consent may be present if four conditions are met. These conditions are not absolutes, but the more they are present, the greater the chance that both parties are consenting.

The guidelines for consent are:

  1. Both people are fully conscious – both parties are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol and are of ‘clear mind’, able to make decisions for themselves;

  2. Both people are equally free to act – one can only give Consent free from intimidation and without fear of harm or other negative or hurtful consequences;

  3. Both parties have clearly communicated their intent – Consent can be given only in an environment where there is clear and unambiguous communication;

  4. Both persons are positive sincere in their desires - honest communication is important. Insincerity and lying make it impossible for the other person to respond with integrity and clarity.

Understand that aggressors use power and control to get what they want – consent is not present when one person "powers over" another. That is not consent.

No one ever asks to be hurt.


What does consent mean to you?

"Consent is when both parties voluntarily agree to partake in physical and/or sexual conduct of any kind. I feel like not all consent needs to be verbal but if it is unclear as to whether there is consent being given then the consent needs to then be verbal. Consent also means that each partner is acknowledging and accepting that the other partner can decide to no longer take part in the interlude at any time and that each partner respects the others wishes."
- William Smith '11


"I would define consent as approval or permission that is given without being coerced to undertake a particular course of action."
- Hobart '13


"Consent is permission. I think when you are talking about sexual consent it gets tricky. I don't think a lot of people give verbal consent, that things just happen "naturally." Doesn't hurt to be sure."
- William Smith '12


"Consent is fully agreeing to any sort of physical or emotional contact between you and another person, without the influence of any external pressure or influence."
- William Smith '11