Effective Consent

Effective consent is defined as words or actions that show a knowing and voluntary agreement to engage in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. Effective consent cannot be gained by force, by ignoring or acting in spite of the objections of another or by taking advantage of the incapacitation of another.

Effective consent is also absent when the activity in question exceeds the scope of effective consent previously given. Past consent does not imply future consent. Silence or an absence of resistance does not imply consent.

Sexual Violence Among College Students

  • 80% of sexual assaults are committed by a person known to the victim.
  • 37% of students know at least one friend who has been raped.
  • 33% of sexual assault victims on campus are first year students.
  • 7.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape.
  • More than 50% of sexual assaults involve alcohol.

Black, M.C., Basile, K.C., Breiding, M.J., Smith, S.G., Walters, M.L., Merrick, M.T., Chen, J., & Stevens, M.R. (2011). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Obtaining Effective Consent
Effective consent requires communication. Each partner should feel free to communicate what they want out of a sexual experience. Partners need to openly state their expectations and how far they want to go. You should frequently check in with your partner to see if they are comfortable. Good communication means a good sexual encounter for everyone involved.

Effective consent must entail an uninfluenced yes. Consent cannot be established if one person is incapacitated or feeling pressured to do something. A person who is incapacitated from drugs or alcohol is unable to give consent. A person should not feel pressured or coerced into sexual activity.

Effective consent happens one step at a time, every time. If either partner agrees to one sexual act, that does not mean they agree to all sexual acts. For example, oral sex does not give consent for intercourse and vice versa. In addition, agreeing to engage in a sexual act today, does not mean they consent to the same sexual act tomorrow.

Effective consent is free to be taken back at any time: At any point during a sexual encounter each partner should feel free to change their mind and the other partner must respect their decision.

Student Victim Assistance provides support services to students who have experienced a non-consensual sexual encounter.