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Consent

Consent can get blurryWant to try something in the bedroom? That's great... but ALWAYS ask first.

Every person has the right to decide where, when, how and with whom they want to be intimate and have the right to change their mind both before and during anything sexual.

Consent can be a complicated subject with 'grey areas' but can be made black and white with open and honest communication.


What is sexual consent?

Whenever you have sexual contact of any kind (i.e. using vibrators, anal sex, touching, whatever you're in to...) you need to check that your potential partner is as keen to participate as you. This is where consent comes in.

Sexual consent is an agreement, by all parties involved, to proceed with a sexual activity. Each person must clearly and freely express that they want to partake in each act (for example, asking for permission before starting oral sex followed by permission before starting vaginal sex). 

Consensual sex is when all parties freely and enthusiastically agree to participate in sexual activities by choice, without:

  • Pressure
  • Force
  • Threats or blackmail
  • Being tricked (E.g. pretending to be someone else)
Each person must also be of legal age, fully conscious, sober and aware.

Consent should never be implied or assumed. Saying nothing does not imply a 'yes'. Never assume that a person has agreed to have sex based on their clothing choice or whether you've been intimate with them in the past.  

It is common for those who have experienced sexual violence in the past to freeze, unable to tell you that they do not want to keep going. You should not wait for someone to say 'no', 'stop' or physically resist to ascertain whether they give consent - always ask before you start.


When is someone unable to give you their consent?

There are circumstances when someone can not legally give you their sexual consent, even if they say 'yes'.

When someone is:

  • Under the age of 16 years
  • Under the age of 18 years if you (the potential partner) are in a position of authority (i.e. their tutor, lecturer, student leader, boss)
  • Under the influence of alcohol or other drugs
  • Asleep or unconscious 
  • Has a psychological or decision-making disability that impairs their ability to understand what they are consenting to
If someone cannot give their consent for any of the above reasons you should not continue. 

Why is getting consent important?

Asking for permission before every sexual act is important but it doesn't have to be super-serious. Add it in as a fun part of foreplay to find out if all parties are 100% sure that they want to participate each step of the way!

Communication, respect and honesty are the key to great sex and healthy relationships and without knowing whether you have consent, you may be committing sexual assault which is against the law. 

Pressuring someone into a situation that they are not ready for can also do lasting emotional damage. Show your partner that you respect them and want to have fun together. Ask about their sexual desires, fantasies and what works for them - you might be surprised by what you find out! 


How can you ask for consent?

If you are unsure whether consent has been given, just ask. This is the responsibility of the person initiating action.

It is best to ask open-ended questions, listen your partner's response, then stop or change what you are doing if they are not enjoying themselves.

It's your opportunity to be creative and spontaneous, so have a bit of fun with it!

Some ways to ask are:

  • "Wanna _____?"
  • "I like to get freaky by doing _____. You wanna try?"
  • "Can I _____ your _____?"
  • "I like to dress up like a ______ and _____. You keen?"
  • "What would you like to do?"
  • "How does this feel?"

It's also important to check in with your partner while you're being intimate to make sure they are still enjoying themselves.

Before you have sex, ask yourself... 

  • "Have I told my partner what I want?"
  • "Do I know what my partner wants?"
  • "Am I positive that they have consented?" 
  • "Is this person sober enough to decide whether or not they want to be intimate?"
  • "Am I sober enough to know that I've correctly gauged their consent?"
  • "Have we got a condom/dam to use to prevent sexually transmitted infections? Are we going to use it right?"

Sexual Violence

Sexual violence involves unwanted sexual acts or behaviours which a person did not consent to or was not able to consent to. Sexual violence can take many forms, including sexual harassment, sexual abuse and sexual assault.

If you think that you or a friend or colleague has experienced any form of sexual violence please talk to a professional and/or someone you can trust for support and information.  

HELPLINE: if you or someone you know believe they have been sexually assaulted recently or in the past, the Sexual Assault Resource Centre in WA has a 24 hour helpline, freecall 1800 199 888.