Santa Clara University

Wellness Center

What is Consent?


“Consent is based on choice.
Consent is active not passive.
Consent is possible only when there is equal power.

Giving in because of fear is not consent.
Going along with something because of wanting to fit in with the group,
being deceived or feeling bad is not consent.
If you cannot say “no” comfortably then “yes” has no meaning.
If you are unwilling to accept a “no,” then “yes” has no meaning”.
~~source unknown


Legally speaking, for two people to have sex, you both have to agree to it: a voluntary, verbal, positive affirmation that you both want to engage in this behavior at this time. It includes positive cooperation and an exercise of free will. A current or previous dating or marital relationship IS NOT sufficient to constitute consent. Remember----things can get hazy if either you or your partner is drunk.

Keep these points in mind:
1) Consent is not just the absence of the word "no." So ask your partner if he or she wants to have sex. A NO answer means "NO."

2) Even if you hear the word, "yes," explicit consent may not be considered legally established. If you've been drinking, any unwanted sexual activity will still be considered assault in some states.

3) Remember you or your partner can change "yes" to "no" at any time. In California, consent can be withdrawn by either partner at any time. If the act continues, it is considered rape.

4) If someone is passed out or is highly intoxicated/disoriented/groggy and can't give his or her consent and you have sex with this person, you will be committing sexual assault.

5) Don't think you can claim you were drunk and didn't know what you were doing if you commit an act of sexual assault. You will be held accountable for your conduct.


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