Sexual Consent: What Everyone Needs to Know

Published by University of Bedfordshire

Sexual consent means a person willingly agrees to have sex or engage in a sexual activity – and they are free and able to make their own decision or change their minds. 

Making sure you get and give consent before having any kind of sex with another person (or people) really matters. Sex without consent is rape or sexual assault.

  • Freely given. Consenting is a choice you make without pressure, manipulation, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Reversible. Anyone can change their mind about what they feel like doing, anytime. Even if you’ve done it before, and even if you’re both naked in bed.
  • Informed. You can only consent to something if you have the full story. For example, if someone says they’ll use a condom and then they don’t, there isn’t full consent.
  • Enthusiastic. When it comes to sex, you should only do stuff you WANT to do, not things that you feel you’re expected to do.
  • Specific. Saying yes to one thing (like going to the bedroom to make out) doesn’t mean you’ve said yes to others (like having sex).

Consent is never implied by things like your past behaviour, what you wear, or where you go.

Sexual consent is always clearly communicated — there should be no question or mystery.

Silence is not consent.

And it’s not just important the first time you’re with someone. Couples who’ve had sex before or even ones who’ve been together for a long time also need to consent before sex — every time.

There are laws about who can consent and who can’t. People who are drunk, high, or passed out can’t consent to sex

Please take a few moments to watch this short film about consent.

To test your understanding of sexual consent, take the short Pause, play, stop consent quiz.

What to do if you’ve experienced Sexual Harassment

If you’ve experienced Sexual Harassment or know someone who has, please speak to a SASH (Sexual Assault Sexual Harassment) Responder. An advisor can talk in confidence to you through the University’s procedures, how to make a complaint, support in contacting the police if you wish to do this, and also highlight what support is available.

You can speak to a SASH Responder by visiting any SiD Desk, reception or speaking to a member of security.

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