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What Does Consent Look Like?

Expressing Consent to Sexual Activity

Consent is a critical component of sexual activity. Without consent, you should not engage in sexual conduct with another person. The outcome could be a sexual assault allegation.

So, what is consent?

While consent may be defined differently, the bottom line is that it is a mutual agreement between two people on participating in sexual activity. Even if a couple has been married for 10 years, for instance, both parties must give their consent despite being intimate for a decade. Consent relies on successful, ongoing communication and can only be given by certain individuals. People who may NOT legally give their consent include:

  • Underage people (In South Carolina, the age of consent is 16)
  • Intoxicated individuals
  • Incapacitated individuals
  • People who are pressured or intimidated into giving their consent
  • People in unequal power dynamics, such as an employee or student

If one person consents to have sex but the other person does not, then both people should not have sex altogether. If a person gives consent but changes their mind, their partner must respect and comply with the change of heart.

Examples of Consent

With the above information in mind, let’s review some examples of what consent looks like:

  • Saying “yes” or “I’m open to trying it” when asked to engage in a type of sexual activity
  • Asking your partner’s permission before changing the type of sexual activity
  • Asking your partner “Is this still okay?” to ensure you are both on the same page
  • Reminding your partner that they can change their mind at any time
  • Giving positive feedback about engaging in a sexual act
  • Ensuring your partner is comfortable with the sexual activity

Examples of Not Giving Consent

Consent can be as straightforward as saying “yes” or something such as frequently checking-in with your partner to make sure they haven’t changed their mind. However, not giving consent may NOT be as simple as saying “no.” This often gets people into legal trouble because what started as consensual sex may easily turn into nonconsensual sex.

Not knowing the difference could result in sex crime allegations such as rape, sexual harassment, and more. As such, the examples below demonstrate what consent does not look like:

  • Saying “no” when your partner asks to have sex or change the type of sexual activity
  • Refusing to take “no” for an answer
  • Continuing a sexual act even when your partner is visibly upset, uncomfortable, or angry
  • Engaging in sexual activity with a person who legally cannot give their consent (see above)
  • Taking signals such as flirting, revealing clothing, kissing, or touching as an invite for sex
  • Pressuring or manipulating someone into doing sexual activity
  • Assuming sexual activity is permissible because your partner consented to it in the past

Even If You Got Consent, You May Still Get Charged

A good rule of thumb to remember in any sexual encounter is no consent, no sex. Without consent, you cannot legally engage in any sexual activity with a person. Your partner may consent to sex at first but could change their mind at any time. However, they may not express their consent and dissent clearly, creating a recipe for disaster. You could face rape allegations despite asking for someone’s consent, which is why you should get legal defense immediately if you are being investigated or charged for a sex crime.

To discuss your situation with us, please contact us at (803) 938-4952.