This article originally featured in The Dunny Dispatch printed by La Trobe University’s Accommodation Services.
To make a mutual, voluntary, informed decision between clear-minded, of age participants before ANY and EVERY sexual act.
Consent means to freely and voluntarily agree to sexual activity. It also means taking responsibility to ensure that the person you are attracted to is comfortable and agrees to go further. If someone is manipulated, threatened or forced into sex, or if they are so intoxicated that don’t know what is going on, then they are not consenting.
Each and every time you do anything sexual, ranging from touching and kissing, to having sex, you must always have the other person’s consent, from beginning to end. Never assume that a person is consenting because they have said “yes” at other times, or because of their reputation, or the way they act or dress.
Why is consent important?
Whenever you have sex, you need to make that the other person is just as enthusiastic about having sex. In other words, that they give their full consent. It’s important that you are 100% sure that the person you’re with is happy and willing because non-consensual sexual activity (even kissing and touching) is sexual assault.
How do you know if the person you’re with has given their consent?
The only way to know for sure if someone has given consent is if they tell you. Sometimes the person you’re with might look like they’re happy doing something but on the inside they’re not. One of the best ways to determine if someone is uncomfortable with any situation, especially with a sexual one, is to simply ask. Here are some examples of the questions you might ask:
- Are you happy with this?
- Do you want to stop?
- Do you want to go further?
If you get a negative or non-commital answer to any of these questions or if the other person’s body language indicates they’re not 100% into it then you should stop what you are doing and talk to them about it.
When drugs and alcohol are involved
Drugs and alcohol can affect people’s ability to make decisions, including whether or not they want to be sexual with someone else. This means that if someone is really drunk or high, they cannot give consent. Being with them in a sexual way when they don’t know what’s going on is equal to rape, because they cannot give informed consent.
Only yes mean yes
The key to pleasurable sex for everyone involved is to know that you;re both as enthusiastic as each other, if you’re not sure, or it doesn’t feel right, don’t keep going.
Complete the Consent Matters module
To learn more about consent complete La Trobe’s online module, Consent Matters: Boundaries, Respect and Positive Intervention.
This short course will make sure you really understand sexual consent and how to recognise situations when consent can and can’t be given, whatever your gender or sexuality.
La Trobe asks all students to complete the course so everyone has the knowledge to make their relationships respectful and safe ones.
It’s also a good way to get familiar with your own boundaries – and know how to talk about them.
There’s also tips about how to step in and help if you witness something you think is inappropriate.
You’ll find a link to the Consent Matters module located on your Learning Management System (LMS).
Need help now?
If you or someone you know has been the victim of inappropriate behaviour and would like support, you can contact:
Speak Up is a free and confidential service for students who experience or witness unacceptable or concerning behaviour.
Speak Up workers can provide you advice, support or help you report an incident to police or other authorities.
There’s also an option to remain anonymous.
Northern Centre Against Sexual Assault (for students at Melbourne)
NCASA are specialist counsellors for people who have experienced sexual assault. Call their counselling line on 03 9496 2240.
There is also a NCASA worker that operates out of the La Trobe Counselling department once a week so it easy for students to access her.
They’ll also be able to connect regional students with their closest Centre Against Sexual Assault.
For after-hours help, call 1800 806 292.
1800RESPECT (1800 737 732)
A 24-hour helpline offering support to support impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse.