- Giving your consent means you knowingly and freely agree to take part in sex or sexual activity.
- Consent must be voluntary, informed and you can change your mind at any time. Informed consent means you understand what you are giving consent to and there is nothing preventing you from indicating if you agree, decline or change your mind to take part in sex or sexual activity.
- Sexual violence is when someone has sex or does sexual things to you without your informed consent.
- Even if you are in a relationship with someone or married to them, they still need your consent to have sex or engage in sexual activity with you.
- If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, you can call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732, chat online via our website or text 0458 737 732.
What does it mean to consent?
If you consent to sex it means you want to have sex at that time with that person.
If you do not give your consent to have sex with that person at that time, but sex or sexual things happen, it is sexual violence.
If you are forced to have sex, you have not given your consent.
Consent means more than just saying yes or not being forced. Consent must be informed.
'Informed consent' means there is nothing stopping you from giving consent or understanding what you are consenting to.
Informed consent cannot be given if:
- you are passed out or unconscious due to drugs, alcohol or a violent assault
- you are asleep
- you are conscious, but the effects of alcohol or drugs mean you are unable to say what you do or don't want
- the other person tricks you into thinking they are someone else
- the other person makes you feel too scared to say no. This might be due to a fear that they will:
- hurt or kill you
- hurt, kill or take away your children or pets
- tell other people private or damaging things about you
- share private or damaging information, photos or videos of you on the internet
- take away
- your money
- access to medical treatment
- care or other crucial support
- the number of people wanting you to have sex or do sexual things makes you too scared to refuse or resist, or make it impossible for you to do so.
Even if you are in a relationship with someone or married to them, they still need your consent to have sex or do sexual things with you.
When sex or sexual activity with consent is never okay
There are some situations where it is never okay for someone to do sexual things with you, even if you consent.
This happens if the other person holds a position of authority and trust over you.
Authority means they have the power to tell you what to do. Trust means that you feel you are safe with them and that they will protect you. Relationships of authority and control can be between:
- anyone and a child. It is against the law to do anything sexual with a child
- school students and their teachers
- employers and employees
- professional health workers and their patients
- carers or support workers and people with disabilities that do not allow them to understand the sexual behaviour being asked of them.
Other things to know about consent
Consent needs to happen every time.
Just because you agreed to have sex once doesn't mean you agreed to have it at any other time.
Everyone needs your consent.
Even if you are in a relationship with someone or married to them, doesn't mean they can have sex with you whenever they want. They still need your consent.
Consent has to happen at every step.
If you agreed to do one sexual thing with someone, it doesn't mean they can do other sexual things to you. You still need to agree.
Showing interest isn't consent.
Giving someone attention, agreeing to go on a date or flirting with them isn't consent. You have the right to say no at any time.