What is "sexual" consent?

Consent is about enthusiastically agreeing to what you want to do, and about openly expressing what you don’t want to do.

You get consent by asking your partner(s) for permission to do something sexual.

You give consent by allowing your partner(s) to do something sexual.

If you try to be sexual with someone without their consent, you’re doing something that they haven’t agreed to, and that’s considered sexual assault or rape.

How do I ask for consent?

You need to give consent and get consent before doing anything, whether it’s hugging, kissing, touching, sex or anything else.

It’s important to communicate every step of the way. We tend to use terms like “hooking up” or “fooling around” that mean different things to different people, so make sure you get a clear understanding of what your partner wants to do.

To get consent, you can ask:

  • Are you comfortable?

  • Is this okay?

  • Do you want to slow down?

You have your partner’s verbal consent only if they explicitly agree to certain activities by saying ‘yes’ or ‘I want to try this.’ If they say ‘maybe’ or ‘I’m not sure’, you don’t have their consent.

You also need nonverbal consent. That means if someone says ‘yes’, but they look unsure or don’t seem into it, it’s your responsibility to check in again by saying, “Are you sure? We don’t have to do that.” If you’re confused about whether your partner wants to do something, then that means you don’t have their consent and you should stop immediately.

Consent for one activity is not consent for all activities. That means if someone agrees to kiss you, they’re only agreeing to kissing. If you want to go further, you have to ask for consent again.

Consent can only be given for one specific moment in time. That means if someone agrees to kiss you on a date, they're not agreeing to kiss you on every date. You need to get consent every time, even if you’re in a long-term relationship.  

Finally, you or your partner can change your mind at any time and withdraw your consent. You have every right to ask to stop if you’re no longer comfortable with what’s going on.  

Remember...

You CANNOT get consent from someone who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

You CANNOT get consent from someone who is asleep or unconscious.

You CANNOT pressure someone into giving you consent. Consent must be voluntarily and eagerly given.

You CANNOT assume someone wants to be sexual just because they’re flirting or because of how they’re dressed.

You CANNOT give consent unless you’re 16-years-old or older. In addition:

  • 12- and 13-year-olds can be sexual with people who are no more than two years older than them.

  • 14- and 15-year-olds can be sexual with people who are no more than five years older than them.

Do you need support?

If your consent has been violated and especially if you feel like you’re in danger, call the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 for free and confidential counselling 24/7.

You can also go to one of Ontario’s Sexual Assault Centres for support.

Still confused? Learn more about healthy relationships, physical abuse and emotional abuse. Or, ask a question on our forum.

 

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