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If you are worried that something has happened to you without your consent, contact the Archway Sexual Assault Referral Centre in complete confidence.

The Scottish Government has defined sexual consent in law as “free agreement”.  But what does that actually mean?



What Consensual Sex Isn’t!

A lot of people seem to believe unless the other person says no or physically fights back, then the sex was consensual.
They think if the other person doesn’t loudly and strongly say NO – everything’s OK.


Even if someone isn’t saying no or pushing the other person away, it can still be unwanted sex. And unwanted sex is not legal.

Many people freeze when being sexually assaulted, out of panic or anxiety about what to say or do.

If one person is ready to go and the other person is frozen in fear or anxiety and/or says “no” in a small voice, it’s still rape.

But then how do you know if consent is there?

Consensual sex is when:

  • Both people agree to have sex (ideally they would say it out loud, but we all know that doesn’t always happen)
  • Both parties SHOW that they’re willing to have sex.
How do they show it?
  • Look for visual clues – Does the other person seem excited or happy? Are they smiling? Or do they seem scared, uncommunicative or unsure?
  • Check body language – Does the other person seem to be in a good mood and clearly enjoying themselves? Or do they seem tense and uncomfortable?
  • What is the other person actually doing? – Are they kissing you right back, are they or touching you without you asking? Or are they kind of still and only move if you ask them to?
  • If you are noticing any of these clues that the other person may not be into it, you need to stop.
And lastly and most importantly,…

If you notice any of these clues that someone may not be into it, just ASK!

You just need to say “Are you OK/is this OK?” – it’s not hard to do. Then listen to how the answer is given.

Even if it’s a “yes” or “OK” but said in a small or uncertain voice, stop for a moment.

Wait before carrying on and find out what’s going on. It might just be shyness - but if it’s not, and if the other person is scared or unhappy about what’s happening, you need to know about it.

“Originally published on Everyday Feminism.”