Sex and Consent

Sex without consent isn’t sex. It’s rape.

What is consent?

  • Consent is voluntary, mutual, and can be withdrawn at any time.
  • Past consent does not mean current or future consent.
  • There is no consent when there is force, intimidation, or coercion.
  • There is no consent if a person is mentally or physically incapacitated or impaired because one cannot understand the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual situation.


  • Consent needs to be clear. Consent is more than not hearing the word “no.” A partner saying nothing is not the same as a partner saying “yes.” Don’t rely on body language, past sexual interactions, or any other nonverbal cues. Never assume you have consent. Always be sure you have consent by asking.
  • Drugs and alcohol impact decision-making and blur consent. When drugs, such as alcohol, are involved, clear consent is not possible. A person who is intoxicated or impaired cannot give consent.
  • Consent can be fun. Consent does not have to be something that “ruins the mood.” In fact, clear and enthusiastic consent can enhance sexual interactions. Not only does it allow one to know that their partner is comfortable with the interaction, it also lets both partners clearly express what they want.
  • Consent is specific. Just because someone consents to one set of actions and activities does not mean consent has been given for other sexual acts. Similarly, if a partner has given consent to sexual activity in the past, this does not apply to current or future interactions. Consent can initially be given and later be withdrawn.

Consent is freely given and there is no fear or pressure involved. Consent is when there is a mutual agreement for sexual activity without any coercion or persuasion involved. When someone says no that does not mean that they can be convinced or pressured to change their mind. Consent must be given freely by each individual involved.


  • How do you ask for consent? Don’t assume a partner is OK with what you want to do. Always ask them. Be direct. If you are unsure whether you have their consent, ask again.
  • How do you communicate your needs? Don’t be afraid to talk about sex and communicate your boundaries, wants, and needs. Encourage your partner to do the same.
  • Where does consent fit? Consent does not have to be something that interrupts sex; it can be a part of sex. Checking in with your partner throughout sexual experiences can be a great way to build intimacy and understand your partner’s needs.