FAQ – What is Consent?

Consent: The voluntary and explicit agreement to engage in the sexual activity in question. It is the act of willingly agreeing to engage in specific sexual behaviour, and requires that a person is able to freely choose between two options: yes and no. An enthusiastic and consistent yes, not the absence of a no.

  • Silence or non-communication must never be interpreted as consent.
  • A person is incapable of giving consent if they are asleep, unconscious or otherwise unable to communicate.
  • A person who has been threatened or coerced (i.e. is not agreeing voluntarily) into engaging in the sexual activity is not consenting to it.
  • A person who is drugged is unable to consent.
  • A person is usually unable to give consent when under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
  • A person may be unable to give consent if they have a mental disability preventing them from fully understanding the sexual acts.
  • The fact that consent was given in the past to a sexual or dating relationship does not mean that consent is deemed to exist for all future sexual activity.
  • A person can withdraw consent at any time during the course of a sexual encounter.
  • A person is incapable of giving consent to a person in a position of trust, power or authority, such as, a faculty member initiating a relationship with a student who they teach, an administrator in a relationship with anyone who reports to that position.
  • Consent cannot be given on behalf of another person.

Incapacitation: When someone cannot make rational decisions and lacks the capacity to give consent. Sexual activity with someone who is incapacitated is sexual assault.

Evidence of incapacitation may include:
– Slurred speech
– Bloodshot eyes
– The smell of alcohol on one’s breath
– Shakiness
– Vomiting
– Unusual/strange behaviour; and/or

It is the responsibility of the initiator of sexual activity to ensure clear and affirmative responses are communicated at all stages of sexual engagement.

Please view the following for more information on drug facilitated sexual assault: Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault – First Responders, Was I drugged and Sexually Assaulted, Sexual Assault and Drugs – Staying Safe