What is consent?
Consent is an agreement between 2 parties in doing something whether it’s verbally or physically. It is giving permission without fear, force, fraud and having the capacity to do so. It doesn’t have to be verbal, but it needs to be real, obvious, and ongoing. Consent only lasts as long as you want it to. You can change your mind and say “no” at any time. Your sexual partner must respect your consent. If you say “no”, they have to stop. If they don’t, they are committing sexual assault or rape.
Giving consent one time, for one sexual activity, is not giving consent every time, for all sexual activities. This means that you need consent, even if you’ve had sex with the person before. Whether you’re in a relationship, married or have just met the person, you still need consent.
What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault is when a person, male or female, touches another person without the person’s consent. This means any physical contact, whether with a part of their body, with another object, or through clothing.
Sex without consent = rape
Some people think that someone who gets drunk or takes drugs should be blamed for their rape or sexual assault.
This should never be the case. Someone who is unconscious, or very drunk or high, can’t give consent. Having sex with someone who is incapacitated is rape. The blame is always on the perpetrator.
Many people believe that victims are only raped or sexually assaulted by strangers.
Most rapes are committed by people the victim knows. Perpetrators can be friends, colleagues, neighbours, family members, or partners.
It’s commonly believed that rape and sexual assault always involves physical violence.
There are many situations in which someone might not have the ability or freedom to consent to sex. They may be asleep or unconscious, or too young to give consent. A perpetrator may threaten a victim’s job, reputation, or family to force them to go along with sex. They may threaten their victim with violence, without carrying out their threat.
Some might say that if someone has consented to sex once, they consent every time.
Sexual assault can happen in relationships, or between people who have had sex with each other before. Consent needs to happen each and every time. Without consent, it’s rape.
Some people think that if someone is flirting, or wearing revealing clothing, they’re asking to be raped.
No one asks to be sexually assaulted, and no one's appearance or behaviour should ever suggest otherwise. Rape has nothing to do with how the victim was dressed, or how they were acting.
Many people think that it’s not sexual assault if they still have their clothes on.
Sexual assault is any sexual touching that happens without consent. It could happen in the middle of a work day, at a party, or on public transport—places where people are fully clothed.
Some people believe that it’s ok to have sex with someone when they are asleep or unconscious.
People who are asleep or unconscious cannot give consent. Sex without consent is rape.
You may have heard that people commit sexual assault and rape because they are depressed, drunk, or on drugs.
Depression and intoxication do not cause sexual assault or rape—and they don’t excuse or explain it, either
Some people think that ‘no’ can mean ‘yes’.
Everyone has the right to say ‘no’ to sex, and to change their mind at any time. Their wishes must be respected.
You may have heard that if you have suffered a sexual assault or rape, you must report straight away.
Sexual assault and rape are traumatic experiences. It might take time to build up the courage to report it. There is no time limit to report a sexual assault or rape. You can do it when you are ready. That said, there are benefits to telling someone early.