Everything you need to know about consent
Not sure about what consent looks like or how you could ask for it? Here is everything you need to know about consent.
Everybody uses consent.
But what does it look like? Who can ask for it? Who can provide it? And when should you be considering consent?
All these questions are answered below. Let us know if you have further questions about consent and we can answer them on our socials. Get in touch!
What is consent?
Consent is essentially agreeing to something. This can be agreeing to do something or giving permission for something to happen. You can consent to a hug, a conversation, an email, a kiss, and more.
Consent must be:
- Freely given: provided without pressure or coercion
- Retractable: able to be withdrawn at any point
- Informed: aware and updated on everything that might take place
- Enthusiastic: excited, happy, and eager to go forward
- Specific: given specifically for the activities that are taking place
Who can provide consent?
It is never too young to learn about and use consent – in fact, it’s important to talk about consent with young children. Some ways to demonstrate consent with children could be with physical affection; with getting dressed; or when taking photos and videos of them. Make it clear with young children that they can exercise consent in these scenarios. Consent is something that all people can provide – we all use consent in our daily lives!
However, when it comes to sexual interactions, there are a few types of people who cannot provide consent. This might be because of many reasons, such as the power dynamics between you, or a person’s maturity or capacity:
- Children, or people under the legal age of consent
- Someone in your legal care
- Intoxicated or inebriated people under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
How can I ask for consent?
Asking for consent is your responsibility. It can be simple:
- “Is it alright if I…?”
- “Would you mind if I…?”
- “Would you like to…?”
- “Are you enjoying this?”
- “Can we try…?”
- “Would you still like to…?”
There are many ways to ask for, and communicate, consent. It is so much more than just a verbal ‘yes’ and ‘no’. It can be in body language – hesitation or stiffness can mean no; pulling someone closer or taking clothing off can signal enthusiasm.
However, it’s important to make sure you have affirmative consent – that is, you should avoid assuming that just because someone hasn’t said ‘no’ you’ve got consent. In Victoria, affirmative consent is law.
When should I consider consent?
Any time you would like to have a sexual interaction with somebody, you must seek consent. It doesn’t matter if you’ve done it with them before, if you love and feel safe with them, or even if you’re married to them – consent is mandatory.
It's also incredibly important to create safety for people to say ‘no’.
If there is a power imbalance, some people might feel obligated or pressured into doing something that they don’t want to do – even if you haven’t explicitly pressured them. Consider power dynamics, and even acknowledge them when asking for consent. This could help your partner to feel safe to decline or withdraw their consent, should they want to.
Outside of sexual interactions, there are many other times that consent is important. Here’s some examples of when you could consider consent:
- Giving someone a hug
- Sitting down next to someone
- Having a conversation that is heavy or emotionally charged
- Taking a photo or video of someone
- Sharing something personal about someone
Got more questions about consent? Ask us on our socials and we will answer them!
If you’re feeling affected by this blog post, please reach out to your local helpline. The national helpline in Australia is 1800RESPECT. For resources in the Northern Territory please visit nt.gov.au/wellbeing/hospitals-health-services/sexual-assault-referral-centres