Consent and relations
Even if you are confident that you are informed about consent, it is important that you review this section to ensure that when engaging in sexual relations this is done in a respectful way. It is vital to feel confident and safe with your partner and to always be considerate towards them. Even in established relationships, situations may change. Conversations about consent are important, as they are context-specific and can be complex at times. Below are some key ideas which should be included in this discussion:
There should be a thorough understanding about what is being asked for and consented to. Consent to sex, for example, is not the same as consent to sex without protection.
Consent is communicated between all individuals involved.
Consent should be a continual communication between all involved, and all should feel engaged and involved in this communication. This means that consent is not only a one-time affirmation, but continued and repeated.
There are situations in which intoxication means consent isn’t possible: when your partner is for example having difficulty speaking or standing. However, everyone has different limits and boundaries, and drunkenness doesn’t automatically invalidate consent. The best way to determine if someone consents to sex after drinking is to check in with the person repeatedly to ensure that they’re capable of communicating their needs. If there is ever any doubt, confusion, or supposed mixed-messages, don’t do it.
Use words and actions that are mutually understandable. For all sorts of reasons people might find communicating in a certain way (e.g. verbally) difficult. The method of communication may differ but the message does not. However, be wary of reading into actions. Neutral behaviour, or not saying no, is NOT consent—consent is affirmative (e.g. “yes”).
Consenting to one sexual act does not mean consenting to all sexual acts. Consent can also be retracted at ANY time, and any and all sexual acts should be stopped until consent is re-established.
Agreement can never count as consent if someone is forced. If you agree after being threatened, this is not consent, and any sexual acts following may be considered assault.
If you ever have any questions about these principles or would like further information, do not hesitate to get in touch with the welfare officers or any College and University counseling/support services.