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Sexual Violence

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Sexual Violence


Understanding Consent

At Trent University, we all have a responsibility to participate in a Culture of Consent. That means respecting people's boundaries, communicating about consent, not coercing or pressuring people to do what they don't want to do, and standing up against sexual violence.

Consent is an active, direct, voluntary, unimpaired, continual and conscious choice and agreement between persons to engage in physical contact or sexual activity. 

So what is consent when it comes to sexual activity?

Consent is an essential part of sex. We’re talking all kinds of sex: sex with your hands, sex with your mouth, sex with toys, plus all those acts that may lead to sex like cuddling, sexting or making out. Consent is a must for all of this hot stuff. Everyone has to get ‘the okay’ before getting busy in any way.

Consent means getting the ‘good to go’ from everyone involved, whether it’s two people or a group of people, everyone must consent. Consent is active, so if you change your mind at any point, you can stop giving consent or withdraw consent at any time. When consent is revoked, there is no longer consent and all sexual activity must stop. Everyone has the right to decide if they’re just not feeling it anymore.

So you get ‘the okay’ to touch them here, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have the okay to touch them there. We should ask and ask again, especially when trying new things. Checking in to make sure your sexual partner is enjoying themselves not only keeps everyone comfortable but it’s incredibly sexy! It means your sexual partner knows you respect them and it lets you know that things are going well.

Hooked up with a person in the past? That doesn’t mean you’ve automatically got consent right now or in the future. Consent is a decision every time – it can never be assumed to exist just because you’ve done it before. Ask again!

Pressuring someone into sex is coercion, not consent. We automatically imagine coercion as being rough and forceful, but it can be as simple as nagging or making your partner feel guilty about not wanting to have sex or try something new like texting naked pics. A lot of times, people think sexual pressure is okay because it’s not like you’re physically forcing someone into anything. But pressuring someone is still coercion.  You should never have to talk your sexual partner into doing anything they don’t want to do.

Consent is required no matter what your relationship looks like. Whether you’re getting hot and heavy on a one night stand, having some casual romance or are in a committed relationship, consent needs to be there. Sexual contact without consent is a form of sexual violence. No one consents to sexual violence.

It is NOT consent if it is:

  • Assumed
  • Implied (based on relationship status)
  • Silence
  • The absence of ‘no’
  • Given by someone who is drunk or high
  • Given by someone who is asleep or unconscious
  • Obtained through ultimatums, coercion or pressure, even if it’s subtle
  • Obtained if the initiator is in a position of trust, power or authority over the person (such as a prof, boss or leader)

If you are initiating a sexual encounter it is UP TO YOU to ensure that the person you are interacting with CAN give consent and that they give AFFIRMATIVE consent.

Consent: It's not about just stopping when you hear no, it's about doing nothing until you hear yes.

Resource: Consent is Golden