Consent

  • Consent means to freely agree to something
  • Informed consent means there is nothing stopping you from giving consent or understanding what you are consenting to
  • Sexual violence includes someone having sex or doing sexual things to you without your informed consent
  • Even if you are in a relationship with someone or married to them, they still need your consent to have sex or do sexual things with you.

What does it mean to consent?

If you consent to sex it means you want to have sex at that time with that person. When sexual activity happens without consent it becomes sexual violence.

There is no consent if you are being forced. However, consent means more than just saying yes or not being forced and needs to be informed. 'Informed consent' means there is nothing stopping you from giving consent or understanding what you are consenting to.

Informed consent can't happen if:

  • You are passed out or unconscious — this might be due to drugs, alcohol or a violent assault
  • You are asleep
  • You are conscious, but the effects of alcohol or drugs leave you unable to say what you do or don't want
  • The other person tricks you into thinking they are someone else
  • The other person makes you feel too scared to say no. This might be due to a fear that they will:  
    • Hurt or kill you
    • Hurt, kill or take away your children or pets
    • Say private or damaging things about you to other people
    • Share private or damaging information, photos or videos of you on the internet
    • Take away your money, access to medical treatment, care or other crucial support
  • The number of perpetrators makes you too scared to refuse or resist, or makes it impossible for you to do so

There are some situations where it is never OK for someone to do sexual things with you, even if you consent. This is particularly the case if the other person holds a position of authority and trust over you. Authority means they have the power to tell you what to do. Trust means that you feel you are safe with them and that they will protect you. For example, relationships between:

  • Anyone and a child. It is against the law to do anything sexual with a child
  • School students and their teachers
  • Psychologists and their patients
  • Carers or support workers and people with disabilities that do not allow them to understand the sexual behaviour being directed at them

Even if you are in a relationship with someone or married to them, they still need your consent to have sex or do sexual things with you.

Other things to know about consent

Consent needs to happen every time. Just because you agreed to have sex once doesn't mean you agreed to have it at any other time.

Everyone needs your consent. Just because you are in a relationship with someone or married to them, doesn't mean they can have sex with you whenever they want. They still need your consent.

Consent has to happen at every step. Just because you agreed to do one sexual thing with someone, doesn't mean they can do other sexual things to you. You still need to agree.

Showing interest isn't consent. Giving someone attention, agreeing to go on a date or flirting with them isn't consent. You have the right to say no at any time.