Sexual consent is when all parties involved agree to engage in sexual activity by their own choice and they must have the capacity to make that choice.
It is important to keep in mind that consenting to one thing does not mean consenting to another. Make sure all parties involved are happy with what is happening. Consent can be withdrawn at anytime and therefore someone can consent at the start of sexual activity but then change their mind, and that is perfectly okay.
Things to consider with regards to consent:
- There can be specific consent given i.e. for vaginal sex but not anal sex. Just because consent has been given for one does not mean that it has been given for the other.
- Either party involved in the sexual activity can change their mind and withdraw consent at any time.
- All parties must have the capacity to be able to consent. Being intoxicated or under the influence of other substances such as drugs may mean that a person is unable to consent. Someone who is unconscious or suffering from a medical condition that means they cannot communicate consent properly may also be unable to give consent.
- The consent given must be of all involved parties own volition.
- Just because someone does not say no, does not mean that they are consenting. You should consider if there are any non-verbal behaviours that suggest that someone does not want to engage in sexual activity:
- Trying to pull away
- Not physically engaging in what is happening
- Shaking their head
- Appearing upset
The legal age for consent in the UK is 16 and therefore anyone under this age cannot under the law give consent to sexual activity.
If anyone involved in the sexual activity has not given consent and you still engage in sexual activity with them, it could be considered sexual assault which is a criminal offence.
If you feel that you have been sexually assaulted or someone you know has been, you are encouraged to make contact with the Student Wellbeing Service through Report and Support. Within the Student Wellbeing Team, there is a dedicated Student Wellbeing Advisor who can support students on safe and healthy relationship issues. You can access their support regardless if the sexual misconduct happened on or off-campus, or if this happened before you came to Queens..
External agencies are also available to offer support to individuals who feel that they have been sexually assaulted.
The Rowan Sexual Assualt Referral Centre
0800 389 4424 Freephone 24/7
If you are a member of staff concerned about a student please refer to the staff section of the Student Wellbeing Service website. You may wish to complete this online form or call the Student Wellbeing Service on 028 9097 2893.