What is Consent?


Consent means an informed, affirmative, conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity.  When consent is ignored, it’s sexual assault.

Consent must be voluntary

  • Consent must be given without coercion, force, threats, or intimidation.
  • Consent requires positive cooperation in a particular sexual act, or expression of intent to engage in that sexual act through the exercise of free will.
  • Being intoxicated by drugs or alcohol does not diminish a person's responsibility to obtain consent from the other party before engaging in sexual activity.

There must always be mutual and affirmative consent to engage in the sexual activity

  • A request to use a condom or birth control does not, in and of itself, mean consent.
  • Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent; silence does not mean consent.
  • Consent to one form of sexual activity (or one sexual act) does not mean consent to other forms of sexual activity (or other sexual acts).
  • Consent to sexual activity given on one occasion does not mean consent to sexual activity on another occasion.
  • The fact that two people are or were in a dating or sexual relationship does not mean consent to engage in sexual activity.

Consent can be withdrawn or revoked at any time, including after penetration

  • Once consent is withdrawn or revoked, the sexual activity must stop immediately.

Consent cannot be given by a person who is incapacitated

  • A person is incapacitated if s/he lacks the physical and/or mental ability to make informed, rational judgments.
    • A person cannot give consent if s/he is unconscious or coming in and out of consciousness, is asleep, and/or is experiencing blackouts.
    • A person with a medical or mental disability may lack the capacity to give consent.
    • A minor cannot give consent.

For additional information about consent please see http://www.calstate.edu/eo/eo-1097-rev-10-5-16.html pages 3 and 4.