Definition of Affirmative Consent

  • Affirmative Consent means an informed, affirmative, conscious, voluntary, and mutual agreement to engage in sexual activity. It is the responsibility of each person involved in the sexual activity to ensure that he or she has the affirmative consent of the other participant(s) to engage in the sexual activity. Lack of protest or resistance does not mean affirmative consent, nor does silence mean affirmative consent. Affirmative consent must be voluntary, and given without coercion, force, threats, or intimidation.
  • The existence of a dating or social relationship between those involved, or the fact of past sexual activities between them, should never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of affirmative consent. A request for someone to use a condom or birth control does not, in and of itself, constitute affirmative consent.

Affirmative consent can be withdrawn or revoked.  Consent to one form of sexual activity (or one sexual act) does not constitute consent to other forms of sexual activity (or other sexual acts). Consent given to sexual activity on one occasion does not constitute consent on another occasion.  There must always be mutual and affirmative consent to engage in sexual activity. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time, including after penetration.  Once affirmative consent is withdrawn or revoked, the sexual activity must stop immediately.

Affirmative consent cannot be given by a person who is incapacitated.  A person is unable to consent when s/he is asleep, unconscious, or is incapacitated due to the influence of drugs, alcohol or medication so that s/he could not understand the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual activity.  A person is incapacitated if s/he lacks the physical and/or mental ability to make informed, rational decisions.

Whether an intoxicated person (as a result of using alcohol or other drugs) is incapacitated depends on the extent to which the alcohol or other drugs impact the person’s decision-making ability, awareness of consequences, and ability to make informed judgments. Intoxication or incapacitation from drugs or alcohol does not diminish a person’s responsibility to obtain affirmative consent before engaging in sexual activity.

A person with a medical or mental disability may also lack the capacity to give consent.

  • Sexual activity with a minor (a person under 18 years old) is never consensual, because a minor is considered incapable of giving consent due to age.