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What Does Consent Mean?

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When discussing sexual assault and abuse, you will hear the word “consent” come up over and over again. Defining consent is not easy, and the laws vary state-by-state. The general definition of consent when it comes to sexual activity is “an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity.”

Consent can be given both verbally and non-verbally, but the main thing to remember is that two people should have clear communication about the activities that are taking place.

Types of Consent

It is fine to say that two people must agree to sexual activity for it to be legal. However, in practice, consent is not as straightforward as asking for permission to do something.

Consent should be asked for and given in all cases of sexual activity. This include:

  • Asking a person if what you are doing is okay or if they wish to engage in sexual activity
  • Using physical cues to let the other person know you are okay with continuing activity

Consent Can be Taken Away

Either party to sexual activity can take away consent if they begin to feel uncomfortable. Consent can be revoked anytime after sexual activity has started and for any reason. If a person says no, that means no.

Intimate Partner Consent

Sexual abuse by intimate partners is unfortunately common. Just because two people are in a relationship, does not mean that consent is no longer needed. Consent is always needed before intimate partners engage in sexual activity, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Members of the LGBTQ community face obstacles when it comes to defining intimate partner abuse, largely due to the fact the domestic violence and sexual assault laws were designed around opposite-sex partnerships. However, intimate partner consent covers all intimate relationships.

What Consent Does Not Look Like

Consent should not be confusing. If a person says no, the other person must acknowledge their response. If they don’t, they are committing rape by continuing. Some other important points to make include:

  • Wearing revealing clothing does not give consent
  • Flirting or kissing is not an invitation for more sexual activity
  • Anyone incapacitated by alcohol or drugs cannot give consent
  • Pressuring or intimidating someone into sex is illegal

Just because you have had a sexual relationship with someone before does not mean you have permission to do so again. It does not matter how many times you have engaged in sexual activity with someone – you always need consent for sexual activity.

Consent Between an Adult and a Child

A minor child is not able to give their consent to sexual activity. Laws vary state-by-state as to the legal age of consent. In some cases, minors can engage in sexual activity with younger adults if the minor has reached the age of consent and the adult is only one or two years older. However, in almost all cases, a minor cannot consent to sexual activity.

Child sex abuse survivors have been coming forward about abuses they experienced at the hands of trusted adults. In many cases, members of the clergy were the perpetrators. If you or a loved one is a survivor of sexual abuse by a religious leader, contact us. Our clergy abuse lawyers in Southern California can help you secure compensation to continue your healing process.

Under no circumstances can a child give consent to sexual activity with a member of the clergy. Perpetrators of such crimes should be held accountable for their actions, either in criminal courts, civil courts, or both.