Sexual consent

Sexual offences occur when consent is not given - or is incapable of being given.

So – it is very important to understand what is - and is not - sexual consent.

Sexual consent is a ‘free agreement’. That means being willing and able to agree to any sexual activity before it happens.

When a person gives consent it means that they feel entirely comfortable having sex or engaging in other sexual acts. In other words, they freely agree to participate. Consent can be verbal, physical, or emotional agreement – it’s not always as straight forward as someone explicitly saying yes. Sometimes people will signal that they don’t want to have sex in less obvious ways like;

  • Not reacting with enthusiasm to whatever is happening
  • Lying still and being quiet or not talking
  • Turning or moving away
  • Crying
  • Making tentative statements like “I’m not sure” “I don’t really want to”

No matter how it looks there needs to be clear confirmation that everyone involved is happy with what’s happening. If there are any doubts that is not the case – ask! It’s that easy. “Should we …?” “What about if we…?”

There are some situations that prevent people from giving free agreement – which also means they’re not able to give their consent. Here are some examples where a person can’t give consent;

  • When they’re very drug or alcohol affected
  • When they’re asleep, unconscious or semi-conscious
  • When they’re under duress – being pressured or threatened
  • When they’re tricked or deceived (eg agreed to one sexual act that turned into something else)
  • If they’re under ‘the age of consent’ (See more info on age of consent)

Sexual offences occur when you don’t give consent or when you are incapable of giving consent.

If you or someone you know has been assaulted, or has experienced concerning, threatening or inappropriate behaviour, support and advice is available.

Consent is everything

Video: 2:49 min

Watch this video if you're still struggling with the concept of consent - just imagine instead of initiating sex you're making them a cup of tea.

Animation courtesy of Emmeline May at and Blue Seat Studios. Copyright (c) 2015