Sexual consent means a person willingly agrees to have sex or engage in a sexual activity – and they are free and able to make their own decision.
Sex without consent is rape or sexual assault, so understanding what consent means really matters. Consent should always be clear; if there is any doubt you should always stop and ask.
Watch the videos in the playlist below and check out the pause, play, stop pages for some interactive information around consent.
Myths about sexual consent
There are many myths surrounding sexual violence, partly due to messages we receive from film, TV and the media. Here are some examples, and you can find more information online from Rape Crisis.
Myth: "Rape is committed by strangers."
Crime survey data suggests as many as 90% of victims knew their perpetrator.
Myth: "Many people make up false allegations."
Research shows only about 4% of rapes reported to the police are false, and the vast majority of victims never report it at all.
Myth: "If someone was sexually assaulted, then they would be left with physical injuries as evidence."
It's actually quite rare to be left with physical injuries. Sexual violence is often perpetrated using manipulation or coercion rather than physical force.
Myth: "Some women are just asking for it. If you dress a certain way you are putting yourself at risk."
A person has the right to wear whatever they like - they cannot be blamed for suffering a sexual assault, regardless of their appearance. Rape or sexual assault is never a person’s fault, it is a choice an abuser makes and it is against the law.
Myth: “Women who get themselves too drunk are asking for it.”
Deciding to drink too much does not mean that a person has also decided to have sex. Remember: having sex with someone who is too intoxicated to give full consent is rape.
Myth: “If two people have had sex with each other before, then it’s OK to have sex again.”
If a person is in a relationship with someone or has had sex with them before, this does not mean that they cannot be sexually assaulted or raped by that person. Consent must be given and received every time two people engage in sexual contact and never assumed.
Myth: “Girls might say no, but really they mean yes.”
No means no! If someone says no, or indicates through their actions that they don’t want to have sex, then they haven’t consented.
Myth: “Sometimes a man just gets carried away and can’t stop.”
Everyone is responsible for their own behaviour. Respecting someone means never forcing them to engage in a sexual act against their wishes.
Myth: “Men don’t get raped and women don’t commit sexual offences.”
A small number of women do perpetrate sexual violence. Often people who’ve been sexually assaulted or abused by a women are particularly fearful that they will not be believed or that their experiences won’t be considered ‘as bad’ as being raped by a man. Men are also raped and sexually assaulted. We believe all that survivors of sexual violence deserve specialist support.