Affirmative Consent Definition

Affirmative consent is a knowing, voluntary, and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create clear permission regarding willingness to engage in the sexual activity. Silence or lack of resistance, in and of itself, does not demonstrate consent. The definition of consent does not vary based upon a participant's sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Seeking and having consent accepted is the responsibility of the person(s) initiating each specific sexual act regardless of whether the person initiating the act is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Consent to any sexual act or prior consensual sexual activity between or with any party does not constitute consent to any other sexual act.

Consent may be initially given but withdrawn at any time. Consent cannot be given when a person is incapacitated. Incapacitation occurs when an individual lacks the ability to knowingly choose to participate in sexual activity. Incapacitation may be caused by the lack of consciousness, being asleep, being involuntarily restrained, or otherwise unable to consent. Depending on the degree of intoxication, someone who is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicants may be incapacitated and therefore unable to consent.

Consent cannot be given when it is the result of any coercion, intimidation, force, or threat of harm. Persons under the age of 17 cannot consent. When consent is withdrawn or cannot be given, sexual activity must stop.


Revised: September 2015