“Never assume. Ask before you proceed. A good lover is a good listener. A bad listener is at best a bad lover and at worst a rapist.” 1
Asking for and obtaining consent…
Show your partner that you respect her/him enough to ask about her/his sexual needs and desires. If you are not accustomed to communicating with your partner about sex and sexual activity the first few times may feel awkward. But, practice makes perfect. Be creative and spontaneous. Don’t give up. The more times you have these conversations with your partner, the more comfortable you will become communicating about sex and sexual activity. Your partner may also find the situation awkward at first, but over time you will both be more secure in yourselves and your relationship.
The only way to know for sure if someone has given consent is if they tell you. 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:
Alcohol and other drugs (including marijuana) can affect a person’s ability to make decisions, including whether or not they want to be sexual with someone else. It also impairs the ability to give consent and one’s ability to accurately interpret whether the other person you’re with is capable of giving consent.
It’s also important to know that often perpetrators use alcohol as a way to target individuals and to “excuse” their own actions. Alcohol does not cause someone to be abusive. Sexual violence and assault is about power and control, not the result of alcohol usage.
Remember, an absence of “no” does not mean “yes.”
Here are some ways that your partner’s body language can let you know that you do NOT have consent:
If you are starting to feel uncomfortable, you always have the right to slow things down or stop altogether. Here are things you could say to let your partner know that you don’t want to go any further:
Below are some things you can say or do if you want to stop:
Michele Passonno, Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator, Health Promotion Department, firstname.lastname@example.org, 706-542-8690
1. Yisrael, D.S. (2005, June). Wimps, studs, virgins, and bad girls: How gender roles affect sexual health and everything else. Session conducted at the annual meeting of the American College Health Association, San Diego, CA.
"I make consent sexy by having a conversation with my partner about our sex life. This includes talking about: what I do and do not feel comfortable doing, any health concerns we might have, using protection, and the importance of being honest with one another. Communication is the key!"
"Talking about it before it happens."
"Always respect what people want -- and start doing this by first making sure everyone's wants are out in the open!"
"By waiting for him to get that special look in his eye and ask me first."
"Communicating with your sexual partner, which shows them that you respect them and that you're being honest and open."
"Mutual respect, honor, appreciation, intimacy, foreplay, understanding, communication, dialogue"