Every two minutes, another American is sexually assaulted, 80% of whom are under the age of 30. Sexual Assault Awareness Month is a campaign to raise public awareness about sexual violence and educate communities on how to prevent it.
This year's campaign theme, I Ask, champions the message that asking for consent is a healthy, normal, and necessary part of everyday interactions.
I Ask for Consent
What if you want to kiss someone, but you aren’t sure how they’d feel? When you want to get close to someone — whether you’re hooking up for the first time or in a long-term relationship — it’s important to know how to ask for consent.
What is Consent?
When someone gives consent, they’re giving permission for something to happen or agreeing to do something. This means they need to know specifically what they’re agreeing to — so make sure what you’re asking is clear. For example, “Do you want to mess around for a while? Like cuddling and making out, but not having sex?”
When and how to Ask for Consent
Always ask for consent before you begin any sexual activity, including kissing, cuddling, and any kind of sex — even if your partner consented in the past. Ask in a way that makes it clear it would be okay if they said “no” — otherwise you might be pressuring them to do something they don’t want to do. For example, “Do you want to go back to the bedroom or hang out here and watch movies?”
What is Not Consent?
Your partner may not tell you “no,” but that doesn’t mean they’re saying “yes.” If someone says nothing, “um… I guess,” or an unsure “yes,” they’re likely communicating that they don’t really want to do the thing you’re asking about. In these cases, you don’t have clear consent. Check in with your partner about how they’re feeling — or suggest another activity. For example, “You seem unsure, so why don’t we just watch TV tonight?”
Pay attention to your partner’s body language. If they pull away, tense up, look uncomfortable, laugh nervously, or are quiet or not responding, you should check in. For example, “You don’t seem too into this. Do you want to stop or take a break?”
Dealing with the "No"
Sometimes your partner will say “no,” and that’s okay. Reassure them that you’re glad they can be honest with you. For example, “That’s okay; maybe we could do that some other time.”
Why Consent Matters
Talking about what your partner wants to do ensures sex is consensual and makes it more enjoyable. You’ll feel more confident about what you’re doing, and your partner will feel comfortable getting close to you.
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