Consent involves a person having the freedom and capacity to agree to sexual activity.
‘Freedom’ means a person’s ability to say yes or no of their own free will (and this being respected). ‘Capacity’ means a person understanding that they have choices, being able to make and communicate decisions and understanding consequences.
Here are some examples of when consent cannot be given:
- If someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol they may not have the capacity to give their consent
- If someone is being coerced, manipulated, intimidated or threatened into sexual activity then they are not being given the freedom to give consent
- If someone is unconscious or asleep they cannot give their consent.
- Consent isn’t fixed – a person has a right to change their mind at any time. Sexual activity must stop as soon as consent is withdrawn.
- Capacity to consent may also be affected by learning disabilities, mental health problems and head injuries.
- Anyone under the age of 13 cannot legally consent.