Some Questions About What Consent Means
.I felt really scared so I just went along with it. I can’t have been sexually assaulted because I didn’t say no.
You don’t have to say no in words. Many people who are threatened, frightened, tricked or stopped from escaping feel so scared that they choose not to say anything and not to ‘fight back’. This is a way people survive sexual attack. The law says that your consent has to be given freely.
I’m OK with some things (like oral sex) but I don’t want to do other things (like penetrative sex). Is that OK?
Lots of people like oral sex or other non-penetrative sexual activity but don’t want penetrative sex (or the other way round) or not with that person at that time. If the other person forces you to go further than you want to go, then it’s sexual assault.
Can I change my mind about having sex? What if we’ve already started making out or we’ve got our clothes off?
The law says everyone has the right to withdraw their consent at any time. This means you can stop at any time, whatever you’re doing. It might be awkward or frustrating for you or the other person but that’s not the point…. you have the legal right to say stop and no one should force you to continue or do something you’re not comfortable with.
It’s OK for me to keep going as long as the other person doesn’t say no, isn’t it?
The law says each of us is responsible for making sure our sexual partners are giving their free consent to what we want to do. The law says you must have a ‘reasonable belief’ that the other person wants to do what you want to do. A reasonable belief is something active. You must go on their body language as well as their words. If in doubt, ask!