Sexual violence is any sexual activity that takes place without someone’s consent. If someone consents to sex, it means they agree by choice, and also that they have the freedom and capacity to make that choice. Consent happens when all people involved in a sexual activity agree to take part by choice. They also need to have the freedom and capacity to make that choice. We all have the right to not agree to any type of sexual activity. We have the right to change our minds at any time, or consent to doing one sexual thing with someone but not another. This even means that if you are in the process of having sex, you can still say no and the other person should respect that.
Sexual activity without consent
Sexual activity without consent is sexual violence, if someone says no or is reluctant to participate in sexual activity, then they do not consent. If an individual is peer presseured into sexual activity, or if they are asleep or passed out. They do not consent. If someone seems unsure, stays quiet, moves away or doesn’t respond – this is not consent. Many people who have experienced sexual violence find that they were unable to move or speak – this is a common reaction. If they can see or suspect you’re not 100% comfortable or happy with what’s happening between you, they should stop.
What consent looks like
Here are some examples of what consent does and does not look like.
Consent looks like:
- Enthusiastically saying “yes!”
- Talking to your partner about what you do and don’t want, and listening to them in return
- Checking in with your partner – “Is this OK? Do you want to slow down? Do you want to stop?”
- Respecting someone’s choice if they say “no” – never trying to change their mind or put pressure on them
Consent does not look like:
- Feeling like you have to agree to sex because you are worried about your partner’s reaction if you say “no”
- Someone having sex with you when you are asleep or unconscious
- Someone carrying on with sexual activity despite your non-verbal cues – for example, if you pull away, freeze, or seem uncomfortable
- Someone assuming that you want to have sex because of your actions or what you are wearing (for example, flirting, accepting a drink, wearing a short skirt)
- Someone assuming that because you have had sex with them before, you want to have sex again
- Someone removing a condom during sex, when you have only agreed to sex when using one
Sexual activity without consent is sexual violence
City and Hackney Young People’s Service is a service for young people between the age of 11-19. We provide the following services Stop Smoking, Testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, Contraception, Pregnancy testing, Emotional Health and support, Hepatitis B screening and Immunisations and Condoms. We can also make referrals to other services including termination of pregnancy services, dietician, psychology and counselling services.