What Does "Consent" Mean in Sexual Assault?



What Does Consent Mean in Sexual Assault?

Consent is a clear "YES" to any physical touch or sexual activity.  Just because you have not come out and said "NO" does not mean you have given consent.

Let's take a look at what is NOT considered consent from the womenshealth.gov website on sexual assault:

  • Silence.  Just because someone has not come out and said "NO", does not mean they are saying yes.  The absence of NO doesn't assume that the person wants you to touch them or have any sexual activity.


  • Getting consent in the past doesn't assume present consent:  What this means is just because you and your boyfriend or dating partner have had sex at any time in the past, doesn't mean you have given up your right to say NO.  Past sexual activity or touch does not assume consent today or in the future.

  • Being in a relationship:  Just because you are married, dating or have had sexual contact before doesn't mean that there is consent now.  This is related to the previous point.

  • Not fighting back:  Just because you didn't or don't put  up a physical fight does not mean that there is consent.

  • Sexy clothing, flirting or dancing is NOT consent.  Only YES is consent.  To assume otherwise would be saying "she wanted it because of how she was acting, dancing or dressed".

  • There is NO consent under the influence of alchohol or drugs...EVER!


Consent Means:

  • You understand and know what is going on.  Another words, you are not intellectually disable or emotionally inhibited due to disability, alchohol, drugs, etc.

  • You know what it is exactly you want to do and what you don't want to do and those boundaries are clearly communicated and received (respected).

  • Consent is not only knowing what you want to do and what you don't want to do...consent is being able to say what you want to do and don't want to do.  I can't stress this enough.


​Let's take a look at the legal definitions for sexual assault terms and the legal definition of consent (taken from https://www.rainn.org/articles/legal-role-consent):

The legal definitions for terms like rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse vary from state to state. See how each state legally defines these crimes by visiting