People often think consent is only important when it comes to sex. Really, consent is about always choosing to respect personal and emotional boundaries. By practicing consent in everyday situations, you show that you value the choices of others.
Ask for consent when touching
- It’s important to ask for consent before hugging, tickling, or other kinds of touch.
- Ask sincerely so others understand it’s okay to say no.
- For people who have experienced sexual abuse, any unexpected touch can be scary and traumatic. Others may just prefer more personal space. For example: “Is it okay if I put my arm around you?” or, “Want to hug or wave goodbye?”
- Everyone has boundaries. Some people like to keep things about themselves private, while others are more open.
- If someone shares personal information with you, it’s important to ask what their boundaries are. For example: “My cousin was assaulted and is afraid they will never feel okay again. Is it okay if I tell them that you’re a survivor, too? It’s all right if you’re not comfortable with that.”
- Just like everyone has different boundaries about touch, everyone has different levels of comfort about sharing things online, like photos.
- It is important to always ask before posting or tagging photos of someone on social media. For example: “This is a great photo of all of us! Is it okay if I share it online, or should I take another one without the kids in it? I know you don’t often post photos of them.”
Sex and consent
- Sex without consent isn’t sex. It’s sexual assault.
- Consent must be freely given. A person must understand what they are agreeing to, and they can change their mind at any time • Consent needs to be clear and enthusiastic. The absence of “no” or silence does not mean “yes.”
- Past consent does not mean current or future consent.
- When drugs and alcohol are involved, clear consent is not possible. A person who is intoxicated or impaired cannot give consent.
How to handle the “no”
- Whenever you’re asking for someone’s consent, they could say “no.”
- Accept the answer and move on. Don’t pressure someone to change their mind.
- It’s okay to feel disappointed with a “no” answer. But always remember that respecting boundaries is the right thing to do.
This blog post was adapted from our friends at the National sexual Violence Resource Center https://www.nsvrc.org/everyday-consent-sheet