Consent is an ongoing mutual agreement between partners about what they do or don’t want to experience. When considering whether acts in your relationship are consensual, keep in mind:
- Consent isn’t as simple as “no means no” or “yes means yes.” Consent is a safe, open, and ongoing conversation about the activities you and your partner are comfortable with and actively want to experience together.
- Consent should happen every time. You and your partner should feel safe letting each other know if you’re not comfortable with something, every time. Consent is a process to be established on an ongoing basis, not broad approval based on past behavior. In a healthy relationship, you always have the right to set and adjust your boundaries based on what you’re comfortable with in the moment.
- Your relationship status isn’t consent. Whether it’s the first time or the hundredth, a casual or committed relationship, nobody is ever obligated to give consent, even if you’ve done so before. You are the only one with ownership of your body.
- Consent isn’t a free pass. Saying yes to one act doesn’t imply your consent to others and every act of physical intimacy requires its own consent. If you feel uncomfortable in the moment, you always have the right to stop, even if you previously agreed.
- There’s no such thing as implied consent. Flirting with someone, talking to them, or the absence of ‘no’ are not consent. Consent only happens when all parties voluntarily, explicitly, and enthusiastically agree.
- It’s not consent if you’re afraid or unable to say no, or manipulated, pressured, or threatened to say yes. It’s also not consent if you or your partner are unable to give consent, including if you’re asleep, unconscious, or under the influence of substances like alcohol, some prescription medications, and other drugs.
- Nonconsent means stop. If anyone involved isn’t consenting, then what’s happening is or could be rape, sexual assault, or abuse.