Adobestock 463506397

What is Consent?

Consent is when someone agrees, gives permission, or says "yes" to sexual activity with other persons. Consent is always freely given and all people in a sexual situation must feel that they are able to say "yes" or "no" or stop the sexual activity at any point.

What is Consent - definition?

con·sent or kənˈsent/

noun - permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.
"no change may be made without the consent of all the partners"
synonyms: agreement, assent, acceptance, approval, approbation

verb - give permission for something to happen.
"he consented to a search by a detective"
synonyms: agree to, assent to, yield to, give in to, submit to

Consent - "a clear and unambiguous agreement, expressed outwardly through mutually understandable words or actions, to engage in a particular activity." Consent can be withdrawn by either party at any point. Consent must be voluntarily given and may not be valid if a person is being subjected to actions or behaviors that elicit emotional, psychological, physical, financial pressure, threat, intimidation, or fear (coercion or force). Consent to engage in one sexual activity, or past agreement to engage in a sexual activity, cannot be presumed to constitute consent to engage in a different sexual activity or to engage again in a sexual activity. Consent cannot be validly given by a person who is incapacitated. 

At the heart of consent is the idea that every person has a right to personal sovereignty – the right to not be acted upon by someone else in a sexual manner unless they give that person clear permission.  It is the responsibility of the person initiating the sexual activity to get this permission. 

The Alabama Age of Consent is 16 years old. In the United States, the age of consent is the minimum age at which an individual is considered legally old enough to consent to participation in sexual activity. Individuals aged 15 or younger in Alabama are not legally able to consent to sexual activity, and such activity may result in prosecution for statutory rape.  

Alabama statutory rape law is violated when an individual over age 18 (or 16 or older if the victim is at least 2 years younger than the offender) engages in sexual intercourse with a person over the age of 12 and under age 16. The offender commits the crime of sodomy If an individual age 16 or older engages in deviate sexual intercourse with a person under 16 and older than 12.

Each of us is responsible for making sure we have consent in every sexual situation. If you are unsure, it is important to clarify what your partner feels about the sexual situation before initiating or continuing the sexual activity. Consent should not simply be assumed by:

  • Body language, Appearance, or Non-Verbal Communication: One should never assume by the way a person dresses, smiles, looks or acts, that they to have sex with you.

  • Dating relationships or previous sexual activity: Simply because two or more people are dating or have had sex in the past does not mean that they are consenting to have sex with you.

  • Marriage: Even in marriage, a person should not assume they have consent for sexual activity. Marital rape is as serious as any other sexual assault.

  • Previous Activity: Consent to engage in one sexual activity at one time is not consent, to engage in a different sexual activity or to engage in the same sexual activity on a later occasion. 

  • Silence, Passivity, Lack of Resistance, or immobility: A person’s silence should not be considered consent. A person who does not respond to attempts to engage in sexual activity, even if they do not verbally say no or resist physically, is not clearly agreeing to sexual activity.

  • Incapacitation: Alcohol consumption or use of other drugs can render a person incapable of giving consent. Alcohol is often used as a weapon to target individuals and is used by perpetrators to excuse their own actions.  

  • You know and understand what is going on (you are not unconscious or blacked out or intellectually disabled).

  • You know what you want to do.

  • You say what you want to do.

  • You are sober (not under the influence of alcohol or drugs).

  • Sometimes you cannot give legal consent to sexual activity or contact. For example, if you are:

  • Threatened, forced, coerced, or manipulated into agreeing

  • Not physically able to (you are drunk, high, drugged, passed out, or asleep)

  • Not mentally able to (due to illness or disability)

  • Younger than 16 (in most states) or 18 (in other states)


Consent is an ongoing process, not a one-time question. If you consent to sexual activity, you can change your mind and choose to stop, even after sexual activity has started.

Past consent does not mean future consent. Giving consent in the past to sexual activity does not mean you have to give consent now or in the future.

Saying yes to a sexual activity is not consent for all types of sexual activity. If you consent to sexual activity, it is only for types of sexual activities that you are comfortable with at that time with that partner.

  • Silence. Just because someone does not say "no" it doesn't mean she is saying "yes." Having consented before. Just because someone said "yes" in the past does not mean she is saying "yes" now. Consent must be part of every sexual activity, every time.

  • Being in a relationship. Being married, dating, or having sexual contact with someone before does not mean that there is consent now.

  • Being drunk or high. Consent cannot be rendered is you are impaired by drugs and alcohol. 

  • Not fighting back. Not putting up a physical fight does not mean that there is consent.

  • Wearing Sexy clothing, dancing, or flirting. Only "yes" means "yes."

If you need help

Visit One Place Family Justice Center at 530 S. Lawrence Street, Montgomery, Alabama or call 334.262.7378 or if you are in immediate danger Call 911.

Contact Us