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Only yes means yes! Consent is typically talked about in the context of some kind of sexual or physical activity with a partner. In a healthy relationship, both partners are able to openly talk about and agree on what kind of activity they want to engage in. Whether it’s holding hands, kissing, touching, intercourse, or anything else, it’s really important for everyone in the relationship to feel comfortable with what’s happening.

Consent is:

  • A clear “yes”. The absence of “no” doesn’t equal consent.

  • Informed and Specific. Both people know exactly what they are agreeing to (i.e. oral sex, or sex with a condom). Saying “yes” to oral sex does not mean “yes” to vaginal sex as well. Consent is obtained at every step.

  • Reversible. Either person could say “no” or “stop” at any point after initially saying “yes.” (You can change your mind!)

  • You should only do things you WANT to do.

  • Neither person feels pressured, coerced, or forced to give their consent.

Friends at School
Image by Eliott Reyna

When Consent Cannot Be Given

There are times that consent cannot be given:

  • If an individual is impaired by alcohol or drugs

  • Consent can never be coerced or gotten through threats

  • Consent cannot be obtained by abusing a position of trust, power, or authority.

  • If an individual has a developmental disability and/or mental incapacity that would impair their understanding of sexual acts

  • If an individual is unconscious, asleep, or for any other reason physically unable to communicate unwillingness to an act.

There are certain cases where a minor cannot consent based on their age and their partners age.

Not obtaining consent can be classified as sexual assault or rape. The survivor of sexual assault is never to blame. Survivors should seek medical attention and counseling to help them sort through their feelings. If you are a survivor, please know that you are not alone. According to the 2019 Florida Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 10.8% of Florida high schoolers experienced sexual violence in the last 12 months.

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