What is consent?


Any sex act which is not fully and completely consensual is, by definition, a crime. So, what is meant by consent?

Consent exists only when both parties in any sexual activity are 17 years of age or older and agree freely to participate in that activity. Consent is mutual, equal, respectful, and freely given agreement to participate. Consent does not exist when there is the presence of threat or consequence. By law, it is impossible for the following to give consent: individuals who are under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances; who are physically helpless (including sleeping); who are under the age of 17; who are mentally incapacitated; and/or who are mentally disabled. Signs of lack of consent vary. Victims of unwanted sexual activity frequently attempt to leave, that is to flee. Sometimes victims of such activity tend to physically resist, that is to fight. Sometimes, victims become so frightened they tend to become paralyzed, that is to freeze. Each of these responses is, by definition, an indication of lack of consent. Submission never indicates consent. Unequivocal verbal agreement is the most definitive expression of consent. Tentative vocal and or non-verbal “signals” do not indicate consent; they leave room for misunderstanding and miscommunication. Consent may be withdrawn at any time during any sexual activity. Agreement to engage in some forms of sexual activity does not automatically indicate agreement to engage in other forms of sexual activity. Any sex act that occurs after the withdrawal of consent is sexual assault.