Women’s Center

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What is Consent?

Consent is the most misunderstood concept in comprehending the issues about interpersonal violence. Learning how to talk about consent, gain consent, or refuse consent can help clarify each person’s responsibility to minimize the risk of unwanted sexual contact.

Consent is an informed agreement to participate in specific sexual acts that is not achieved through manipulation, force or coercion of any kind, and requires having cognitive and emotional ability to agree to participate. Impairment due to alcohol and drug use, permanent/ temporary psychological or physical disability, and being below the age of consent (age 16) are factors which detract from or make consent impossible. Consent may be withdrawn at any time. (URI Student Handbook)

  • A voluntary, sober, imaginative, enthusiastic, creative, wanted, informed, mutual, honest, and verbal agreement
  • An active agreement: Consent cannot be coerced
  • A process, which must be asked for every step of the way; if you want to move to the next level of sexual intimacy, just ask
  • Never implied and cannot be assumed, even in the context of a relationship. Just because you are in a relationship does not mean that you have permission to have sex with your partner.

Circumstances in which a person CANNOT, by law, give consent:

No matter what he/she may verbalize:

  • The person is intoxicated beyond the legal limit (0.08 in RI). If the person is severely intoxicated or unconscious as a result of drugs or alcohol. Also, please know that if the attacker is also intoxicated, they are not released of guilt.
  • The person is physically or mentally disabled.
  • When a person says “No.” It does not matter if or what kind of sexual behavior has happened previously in the current event, earlier that day, or for the previous six months. It does not matter if it is a current long-term relationship, a broken relationship, marriage, acquaintance, or stranger.

If consent is not obtained prior to each act of sexual behavior (from kissing to intercourse), a student risks violation of the University of Rhode Island Sexual Harassment Policy.

Consent F.A.Q.

If you someone has attempted or completed a sexual act without your consent…

Know it is not your fault and there are numerous resources, both on campus and off campus, that can help you.

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