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Consent is words or conduct indicating a freely-given agreement to have sexual intercourse or sexual contact, according to Washington state law. It is required for anyone to engage in any type of sexual contact from kissing to sex with another individual.
To ask for consent, ask your partner before you engage in sexual activity. Ask what they want to do and how far they want to go. Consent is about everyone involved agreeing to engage in sex and knowing what all involved want to do.
“[To] have a healthy sexual relationship, have those conversations ahead of time,” WSU Police Sgt. Dawn Daniels said. “Is this what they really want to do? Although it can be embarrassing, ask. Make sure that this is where both parties want to be.”
It is vital to confirm verbal consent and have a conversation about engaging in sex rather than assuming consent because not everyone can verbalize no, stop or don’t. If a verbal consent is not given, it does not mean the other party consented.
“When we go into fight, flight or freeze syndrome, our bodies sometimes will physically freeze and not allow us to move, talk or speak,” Daniels said. “It’s not necessarily something you can control — it’s how your biological system works.”
Fight, flight or freeze makes verbal consent absolutely necessary for any sexual encounter. If you do not get verbal consent, your partner may not have consented and may be frozen, unable to move, talk or speak.
Only people who are sober can freely give consent. If alcohol is involved, consent is difficult to give or determine. Daniels suggested not engaging in sex while intoxicated because of this.
“If there’s any hint whatsoever that the answer is not firmly yes, don’t risk it,” Daniels said. “Why risk the rest of your life or someone else’s life?”
You must ensure you have consent from your partner or partners before engaging in sexual activity. If you do not have verbal, sober consent, then you do not truly have consent. Without consent, you are engaging in an act of sexual assault or rape.
For those on campus impacted by sexual assault and rape, the Office for Equal Opportunity has resources available on its website. Title IX Coordinator Kim Anderson encourages students to reach out to the OEO for support. The OEO is victim-led and is there to support any student impacted by sexual violence.