The Consent Project

What is Consent?

The responsibility for establishing consent rests upon the person who is initiating the sexual activity.  To establish that someone has consented to sexual activity, the person must receive consent stated verbally or receive this communication nonverbally in a way that would nonetheless be seen as consent by reasonable people.  Consent cannot be established simply on the basis of a current or previous dating or romantic relationship.  In addition, consent may be withdrawn at any time during the sexual act.

Consent consists of words or conduct indicating a freely given and present agreement to perform a particular sex act with the initiator.  Consent can only be given or implied by someone who acts freely, voluntarily, and with knowledge of the nature of the act involved.

Consent cannot be given if someone is:

  • Incapacitated by drugs, including alcohol
  • Coerced into submission
  • Unconscious
  • Physically incapacitated
  • Mentally incapacitated

Consent cannot be inferred from:

  • Permission for one particular act or for a series of acts
  • A prior sexual, romantic, martial relationship
  • An existing sexual, romantic or marital relationship

Consent is defined as positive willingness in act or attitude.  The consenting individual must be of legal age and fully informed about the nature of the act.  The interaction must be completely voluntary and may be considered against the will of the victim when he or she is incapable of giving consent due to ingestion of alcohol or drugs, regardless of whether the ingestion was voluntary or not.  Consent cannot be inferred if the victim is asleep or unconscious, silent or passive, and the sexual act would be considered non-consensual. 

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