Consent: Means an affirmative, conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity. The presence or absence of consent is determined by evaluating all the relevant facts and circumstances. All five of the following elements are essential in order to have consent. If one or more of the following is absent, there is no consent.

  • Consists of Mutually Understandable Communication: Communication regarding consent consists of mutually understandable words and/or actions that indicate an unambiguous willingness to engage in sexual activity. In the absence of clear communication or outward demonstration, there is no consent. Consent may not be inferred from silence, passivity, lack of resistance or lack of active response. An individual who does not physically resist or verbally refuse sexual activity is not necessarily giving consent. Relying solely upon non-verbal communication can lead to an erroneous conclusion as to whether consent was sought or given. Verbal communication is the best way to ensure all individuals are willing and consenting to the sexual activity.
  • Informed and Reciprocal: All parties must demonstrate a clear and mutual understanding of the nature and scope of the act to which they are consenting and a willingness to do the same thing, at the same time, in the same way.
  • Freely and Actively Given: Consent cannot be obtained through the use of force, coercion (defined above), threats, intimidation or pressuring, or by taking advantage of the incapacitation (defined below) of another individual.
  • Not Unlimited: Consent to one form of sexual contact does not constitute consent to all forms of sexual contact, nor does consent to sexual activity with one person constitute consent to activity with any other person. Each participant in a sexual encounter must consent to each form of sexual contact with each participant. Even in the context of a current or previous intimate relationship, each party must consent to each instance of sexual contact each time. The consent must be based on mutually understandable communication that clearly indicates a willingness to engage in sexual activity. The mere fact that there has been prior intimacy or sexual activity does not, by itself, imply consent to future acts.
  • Not Indefinite: Consent may be withdrawn by any party at any time. Recognizing the dynamic nature of sexual activity, individuals choosing to engage in sexual activity must evaluate consent in an ongoing manner and communicate clearly throughout all stages of sexual activity. Withdrawal of consent can be an expressed “no” or can be based on an outward demonstration that conveys that an individual is hesitant, confused, uncertain or is no longer a mutual participant. Once consent is withdrawn, the sexual activity must cease immediately and all parties must obtain mutually expressed or clearly stated consent before continuing further sexual activity.