Understanding Consent

Consent is an agreement to do the same thing at the same time in the same way.

Ninety percent of survivors will know the person who assaulted them. The first step to preventing sexual assault is understanding consent.

Consent is Specific

Consent for one sexual activity does not mean consent for another, and consent at one time does not imply consent in the future. Being in a relationship with someone does not mean your partner has automatically consented to any sexual activity.

Consent Means Talking About Sex

Consent is best understood through clear words and actions. To be sure you have consent, just ask, and be specific. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about sexual activity, you might not be ready for it. Talking about consent is as simple as asking ...

  • "Do you want to do more?"
  • "Do you want to keep going?"
  • "Would you like to ... ?"

Consent is Not Just the Lack of a "No"

Just because your partner isn’t saying “no” doesn’t mean they are necessarily OK with what you’re doing. Statements like “I don’t know” or “maybe” or even silence do not indicate consent. IF IN DOUBT, ASK. Consent can be withdrawn or modified at any time, and that should also be clearly communicated.

Consent is a Willing Agreement

There is no consent in the presence of coercion, incapacitation, or force. Coercion may consist of intimidation, threats, or other severe conduct that causes a reasonable person to fear significant consequences if they refuse to engage in sexual contact.

Consent Must be Coherent

Incapacitation is the inability to give consent because the individual is mentally and/or physically helpless due to a disability, drug or alcohol consumption (either voluntarily or involuntarily), or the individual is unconscious, asleep or otherwise unaware that the sexual activity is occurring. Being intoxicated does not excuse anyone from ensuring they have willing consent from another before engaging in sexual activity. Incapacitation could be indicated by:

  • Lack of control over physical movements.
  • Lack of awareness of physical circumstances or surroundings.
  • An inability to communicate.

Get Consent for Digital Activity

Sending explicit videos, images, texts, or snaps – without the consent of the person pictured or the people you are sending it to – is SEXUAL MISCONDUCT. Using technology to track, intimidate, harass or threaten another individual could be stalking.

Read USU's sexual misconduct policy, which includes the full definition of consent.