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What is consent?

Video: We all have a role in contributing to a culture of consent.

Consent means someone freely agrees to engage in a certain act. It’s a non-negotiable part of sexual activity. A person who is asleep or unconscious is incapable of consenting to sexual activity. In other words, if consent isn’t present, it’s sexual violence.

What is consent?

Consent is an active, ongoing, affirmative, conscious, direct, unimpaired and voluntary agreement to engage and continue to engage in sexual activity.

Consent cannot be given while impaired

All of the elements of consent must be present, even if alcohol or drugs have been consumed. It's not acceptable for a person who is said to have engaged in sexual violence to use their own consumption of alcohol or drugs as an excuse for their mistaken belief that there was consent.

Consent is ongoing

Consenting to one kind of sexual activity does not mean that consent is given for another kind of sexual activity - it only applies to a specific instance of sexual activity. A person may withdraw consent at any time during sexual activity.

Consent cannot be given ahead of time

The existence of a relationship or past sexual activity does not alone constitute consent. Subsequent consensual sexual activity, communication or other conduct of a sexual nature does not suffice as evidence of consent to prior sexual activity.

Consent and power

A person may be incapable of consenting to sexual activity when there is an imbalance of power or authority, or when one person is in a position of trust and induces another to engage in sexual activity.

Consent and coercion

The act of using subtle pressure, drugs, alcohol or force to have sexual contact with someone against their will (when they have already expressed that they do not want to have sexual contact) is sexual coercion. 

For more information on consent, visit breakthesilencens.ca

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