Let's talk about consent
7 February 2018
Consent, it's as simple as tea! Louise, Wellbeing Adviser is here to tell us why it's so important to know the facts and what sexual consent has got to do with this quintessentially British pastime.
Enthusiastic sexual consent (both giving and getting) is a crucial part of all sexual interactions and contributes to respectful, equal and fulfilling relationships. Any sexual activity that occurs without consent is against the law.
No one ever deserves to experience any form of sexual violence or harassment; it is never the survivor’s fault. Sole responsibility and blame lies with the perpetrator.
What is consent?
Consent is legally defined as agreeing by choice and having the freedom and capacity to make that choice. This means that consent is active and includes a freely given and informed yes, verbally and through actions and body language.
Freedom to consent
Freedom to consent means doing something because you WANT TO.
A person is not making a free choice if:
- they or someone else is being threatened and/or intimidated through fear and violence
- they felt forced or pressured/coerced into making a decision
- they are being blackmailed in some way, e.g. using images or social sabotage
- there is a power imbalance between two people; for example due to age, status/position and/or authority or a dependency (e.g. drug/alcohol use, financial control)
Capacity to consent
Capacity is about whether you are physically and/or mentally able to make and fully understand the consequences of that choice.
A person does not have the capacity to give consent if:
- they are drunk or high on drugs
- they are asleep or unconscious
- they are under 13 years old
- they have a disability which results in them being unable to make a fully informed choice at that time
Other things to consider
- Consent is not ongoing - consent needs to be negotiated every time you have sex and also during sex as you start to do different things, regardless of any previous sexual activity.
- Consent may be withdrawn at any time (including during sex) and can never be implied, assumed or coerced.
Consent and Tea
If you’re still struggling with consent just imagine instead of initiating sex you’re making them a cup of tea.
You can watch the video made by the Thames Valley Police below.
UCL Student Support and Wellbeing work closely with Rape Crisis and Survivors UK and are committed to the safety and wellbeing of our students and will do our utmost to support anyone who has been, or is being, affected by sexual violence. For more information about support available to students who have experienced sexual violence, take a look at our support pages.
National Rape Crisis Helpline: 0808 802 9999
REMEMBER: An enthusiastic yes = enthusiastic consent
Louise Nolan, Student Support and Wellbeing Adviser