What Does Consent Look Like?
UND's Title IX and Sexual Violence Policy
Consent is affirmative, informed, voluntary, and active permission to engage in a mutually-agreed upon sexual act or contact. Consent is expressed by clear and unambiguous words or actions that a reasonable person in the circumstances would believe communicate a willingness to participate in a sexual act or contact.
It is the responsibility of each person who wishes to engage in a sexual act or contact to obtain consent. The use of drugs or alcohol does not eliminate a person's responsibility to obtain consent.
Consent cannot be obtained:
- By the use of physical force, threats, intimidation, deception, or coercion;
- From one who is incapacitated, such as due to mental or physical condition or the use of drugs or alcohol;
- From one who is asleep or unconscious; or
- From one who is not old enough to give consent under state law.
Consent is NOT
- Making assumptions about a person's willingness to participate in an activity based on how they're dressed, how many drinks they have had, etc.;
- The absence of a "no;"
- Pressuring someone through fear or intimidation;
- Assuming it's okay because the person has done a particular sexual activity before; or
- Assuming that if you have consent for one sexual activity then you have consent for all sexual activities.
If you're in doubt, assume that you don't have consent. Stop and don't go any further until you have clear consent.
How Do I Know if I Have Consent?
If your partner isn't being clear, ask.
If you aren't sure you have consent, you don't have it. When choosing to kiss, hook up, or have sex, it's on you to make sure your partner(s) want to as well.
Here is the best way to know you have consent:
- You and your partner(s) have given an informed, uncoerced, verbal "yes."
- You and your partner(s) aren't at all incapacitated.
- You and your partner(s) are of legal age.
Remember, check in regularly. Consent is ongoing. Ask your partner(s) how they're doing and if they like what you're doing. Ask for feedback! Listen for an answer.
Body Language and Consent
A lot of communication in intimate situations is nonverbal. Nonverbal cues convey our thoughts and feelings, including smiling, nodding, and touching.
When we're talking about consent, though, body language often isn't enough. Relying only on nonverbal cues during sexual activity is risky and the stakes are too high to be wrong. It is best to rely on explicit verbal communication to make sure you have consent. Complement the verbal with all the nonverbal communication and body language you want.
Signs You Should Stop
- Your partner(s) has/have indicated they don't want to have sex with you.
- You are intoxicated and cannot gauge or give consent.
- Your partner(s) is/are asleep or passed out.
- You hope your partner(s) won't say anything and will go with the flow.
- You intend to have sex by any means necessary.
- You or your partner are under the age of consent.
Signs You Should Pause and Talk
- You are not sure what your partner(s) want(s).
- You feel like you are getting mixed signals.
- You have not talked about what you want to do.
- You assume that you will do the same thing as before.
- Your partner(s) stops actively participating or is/are not responsive.
Signs You Can Keep Going and Communicating
- You and your partner(s) come to a mutual decision about how far to go.
- You and your partner(s) clearly express comfort with the situation.
- You feel comfortable and safe stopping at any time.