It’s probably not the first thing on your mind as you lean in for a kiss, or go to put your hand around their waist, but it’s crucial to remember that the other person must consent to your actions.
Now we’re not asking you to ask “do you mind if I kiss you?” every time, but there are some signs you should look out for.
Remember, consent isn’t solely verbal. Someone may tell you they do or don’t consent through their body language. If they seem tense, nervous or frightened, stop kissing you, move your hands away from them, or anything else that signals they are uncomfortable, these could be signs of non-consent. Don’t ignore them - check with the other person. If you’re unsure of what their body language is saying, it’s always best to ask.
It's also important to remember that the individual must have the capacity to give consent. This means, they must be aware of their actions (so not drunk or on drugs), and not pressured into giving consent.
Obviously all of the above applies to sex as well. Just because someone has agreed to go home with you, it doesn’t mean they have consented to have sex or engage in other sexual activity with you. You must ensure consent has been given, and remember that consent to one sort of sexual activity doesn’t mean consent to everything.
Also don’t just assume that because someone consented to something once, they are happy for it to happen every time. It doesn’t matter if you are in a relationship, or have slept with this person before, you must get consent every time. Without consent, sex is illegal.
Consent applies to any form of sexual interaction. This includes touching, kissing, sex and everything in between. It applies to everyone: male, female, non-binary, trans, disabled, asexual and everyone else as well.
Check out the video below that breaks things down.
If you are ever in doubt, stop and ask. Consent must also be continuous and can be withdrawn at any point. Asking will only help to put your partner at ease that you are respecting their boundaries.
You can also check out this helpful video to understand consent a little better. NB: asking if they want tea is not the same as asking if they want sex.
There may also be terms to consent. For example, someone may only give consent on the basis that you use a specific form of contraception. Removing this without telling them, is therefore illegal.
Brook provides really helpful information why consent is important and how to understand consent.
If you find yourself victim to non-consensual sexual interaction, there are people to talk to. If it occurs on a night out at the SU, please report it straight away to security. After this, the College’s Wellbeing service should be your first port of call. Alternatively our Advice Centre offers free impartial advice in a private and confidential safe space. In addition to the College based services, there are charities such as RASASC and Solace.
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