What is Consent?

Indiana University defines "sexual consent" as:

"Consent is agreement or permission expressed through affirmative, voluntary words or actions that are mutually understandable to all parties involved, to engage in a specific sexual act at a specific time:

Consent does not exist when the individual initiating sexual activity knew or should have known of the other person’s incapacitation*.


Non-consensual sexual activity is sexual assault.  For a full definition of sexual assault as well as other forms of sexual misconduct, visit stopsexualviolence.iu.edu.

  • Consent can be withdrawn at any time, as long as it is clearly communicated.
  • Consent cannot be coerced or compelled by force, threat, deception or intimidation.
  • Consent cannot be given by someone who is incapacitated*, as defined below.
  • Consent cannot be assumed based on silence, the absence of “no” or “stop”, the existence of a prior or current relationship, or prior sexual activity."

*Incapacitated - A person is incapable of consent if they are unable to understand the facts, nature, extent, or implications of the situation due to drugs, alcohol, a mental disability, being asleep or unconscious, or based on their age (pursuant to Indiana law).

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