If you’ve made the decision to be sexually active, then you need to know about consent.
Let’s talk about consent - what it means, the proper way to ask for it and what can happen when two people aren’t on the same page.
What does consent mean?
Consent means enthusiastically agreeing to any sexual activity with another person. Sexual activity means touching another person in an intimate way or vaginal, anal or oral sex.
How do I give consent or ask for consent?
You should always have a quick convo with your partner before you start any sexual activity to make sure you’re on the same page. If you’ve started doing one thing and want to take things a step further, you should stop and ask again. You should get (and give) consent for every step.
It’s NEVER too late to change your mind. You are allowed to change your mind and not do something at any time. It’s also NEVER ok to pressure or guilt someone into sexual contact.
You may be thinking, “How will I have time for a conversation when we’re in the heat of the moment?”
Getting or giving consent doesn’t have to be awkward. It can be as simple as asking “Can I hold your hand?” or “Can I kiss you?”
You must get verbal consent (yes or no), but it’s also important to read the other person’s body language.
- Someone may say yes even if they are reluctant because they feel pressured to or because they are uncomfortable saying no.
- If you see that they are tense or are pulling away from you, you should ask again and let them know that it’s ok if they aren’t comfortable.
- Don’t pressure your partner, and remember that you both must get and give consent at all times and can stop giving consent at any time.
You must ask for and/or give consent not only at each and every step, but each and every time. Even if you’ve been sexual with the person in the past, they may not be feeling it the next time, or they may have decided they don’t want to do it again.
What do you do if your partner does not respect you?
If you feel your partner doesn’t respect you:
- Have a conversation with them about how you’re feeling.
- Talk to a trusted adult like a parent or teacher.
- Reach out to one of the resources below.
If you think you are in an abusive relationship – whether physical, emotional or sexual – and you need help, you should:
- Talk to a trusted adult, like a parent or teacher.
- Reach out to one of the following resources:
What is rape or sexual abuse?
- Rape is forced sex (vaginal, anal or oral) with another person without their consent.
- Sexual abuse is any sexual behavior or sexual act (like someone forcing you to kiss them, showing you their genitals or smacking your butt) that is forced upon another person without their consent.
Rape or sexual abuse are deeply harmful, dangerous and traumatizing for those who experience them. They can also have serious consequences, even jail time.
This is one of the many reasons why consent – every time, and every step of the way – is so important.
Remember: When a person is drinking alcohol or using marijuana (cannabis, weed) or other drugs, they cannot give consent.