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Consent Is / Is Not

Consent is

  • Mutual – all partners enthusiastically wanting  and agreeing to the sexual act(s)
  • Informed – all partners understanding what they are agreeing to and participating in
  • Freely given – consent is given  and respected, not taken, coerced, forced or pressured
  • Communicated – either verbally or non verbally e.g. an active body
  • Retractable – consent can be withdrawn at any time for any reason. Saying yes to something doesn’t mean saying yes to everything
  • The law also says that to consent to sex a person must be over 16 and have the ability to make decisions for themselves

Consent is not

  • Forced
  • involving threats, intimidation, coercion and pressure
  • Assumed (even for long term partners)
  • Silence
  • Drunk or High (partners must be capable of giving consent)
  • A lack of resistance
  • Muddled communications or misunderstandings
  • Just about saying yes or no  – someone doesn’t have to say the word NO  to withhold permission, there are lots of ways they might say they don’t want to do something or have sex

How and when do I ask for consent?

Open communication is great for any relationship, it’s particularly important for sexual relationships.
It helps avoid boundaries being broken and can lead to a more pleasurable and enjoyable experience too.

  • Communication needs to be open, honest and ongoing. Talk about your likes, dislikes, what you want or don’t want and what you would like to try
  • Consider when you are interacting digitally, are you still asking for consent before you take an action.
  • Talk about sexual activity before, during and after the event.
  • If you’re shy sometimes not talking face to face but side by side is easier.
  • Check in with your partner/s while you are intimate.
  • Listen and watch your partner attentively when you are intimate to look for non-verbal clues too (are they being an active body?)
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Need to speak to someone?

If you need further advice, or if this page hasn’t answered your questions then get in contact with your local bSHaW Sexual Health Clinic for a friendly chat.

Call 0300 303 2880 to book an appointment or use our service finder to locate your nearest clinic.

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