What is consent?
When you’re having sexual contact (sex, oral sex, touching, hooking-up, etc.) with someone, do you ever consider if the other person wants to do this as much as you do? Whether they are your partner, a fuck buddy, or maybe someone you have just met, consent is a requirement of all sexual encounters. To gain consent, it is important to check how far the other person wants to go, and to not pressure them, otherwise it’s harmful in the long-run. Communication by voice or body language is essential to providing and recognising consent.
How do you recognise consent?
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- The person is saying “yes!”, or something along those lines.
- They are able to freely agree (not drunk, high, or feeling pressured).
- They are active in their body language and respond actively to your questions.
- They look happy and communicate with enthusiasm
If you are at all unsure, ask them:
- “Can we kiss?”
- “Can I touch/kiss you here?”
- “How far do you want to go tonight?”
- “Do you feel like having sex tonight? It’s okay if you don’t!”
- “Where do you want me to touch you?”
- “How do you like to be touched?”
- “Can we have a safe word?”
What does consent NOT look like?
If someone is not giving consent that is their decision to make. The signs of non-consent include:
- They say ‘no’ or ‘stop’ at any stage.
- They might not be saying anything.
- They are dissociative (drunk), or under the influence of drugs.
- They are unresponsive to, or deflect, your questions.
- Their body language is not positive or responsive.
- They look upset or generally ‘down’.
- Their body is locked up or frozen.
Can people give consent if they are drunk?
If someone is too drunk they are not able give full consent. If you like them, wait until they are sober and able to give consent. You could tell them, “Let’s wait until tomorrow” or “I like you, but I don’t want to do it now”. Consensual sex the next morning is even better.
What if a friend is receiving unwanted touching?
If you see that someone is being touched or approached by someone and they look uncomfortable, you can step in to check that they are consenting to the situation. You could help in a non-violent and safe manner by asking: “Wanna go have a smoke?” “Can you show me where the bathroom is?” or even say “I’ve ordered a taxi, let’s go home”.
My friend told me they received unwanted touching or sex, what do I do?
Firstly, believe them. Tell them, “This is not your fault”. Offer them resources and ask if they are safe. It’s crucial to ask them what help they need. It’s important to recognise your own boundaries, of how much you can help someone and the impact it will have on you. There is a list of options below for professional help.
We all want to be safe, and we all want to have sex that is the best for all involved. Make sure to ask for consent!
Medical and psychological care
It is important to think about your physical and emotional health needs.
Tū Pakari Ora—Wellington Sexual Assault Assessment & Treatment Service
They offer a safe environment, and sensitive medical and forensic care, for people ages fourteen and over who have been sexually assaulted or abused.
Call them between 8.00am and 5.00pm on 04 805 0522.
Cuba Street Clinic
275 Cuba Street
Te Aro, Wellington
They provide physical health care for students, with clinics at the Kelburn and Pipitea campuses.
They provide short term counselling support for students, with clinics at Kelburn, Pipitea, and Te Aro campuses.
Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP 24/7 crisis line
They operate a 24-hour crisis support line. If you find yourself needing to talk to someone, they’re there to listen and help, 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
Call 04 499 7532, or visit the Wellington Help website for more information.
Wellington Rape Crisis
They provide support and information over the phone, by email, and in person to survivors of rape and sexual abuse, and to their families, friends, and whānau.
Call 04 801 8973, or visit their drop-in clinic between 9.30am and 4.00pm. No appointment is necessary.
Wellington Rape Crisis
203–209 Willis Street
Hutt Rape Counselling Network
They provide a free service to all women, men, and children who have been sexually abused at any time in their past.
Call them on 04 566 5517, or call their 24-hour crisis line on 0800 22 66 94.
They are a community group that works with males who have been the victims of sexual abuse. Meetings are held in discreet locations in Newtown, Porirua, Petone, and at Victoria University.
Contact them on 0224193416 or email email@example.com
Support from the university
It takes a lot of courage to come forward about these issues, and we welcome the inclusion of any support people assisting the survivor.
For support and advice from the university, please contact any of the following:
• Jackie Anderson, Student Interest Adviser (04 463 5023)
• Your hall of residence’s Student Support Co-ordinator
• Disability Services (04 463 6070)
• Kate Nickelchok, VUWSA Student Advocate (04 463 6984)
If there’s a staff member you trust, they will be able to help you access the appropriate care and support.
Want to do something about sexual violence on your campus?
Thursdays-In-Black campaign on Victoria campuses
Raise awareness of rape and violence by wearing black every Thursday. It is a movement towards change, for sexual violence prevention, education, and support. To find out more and to get involved contact Izzy O’Neill, Women’s Rights Officer at Tertiary Women NZ, on firstname.lastname@example.org or Chrissy Brown, Equity Officer at VUWSA, on email@example.com. Alternatively, like Tertiary Women New Zealand on facebook to follow the campaign.
VUWSA Women’s Group on Victoria campuses
The Women’s Group is a representative group that are active in promoting consent and recognizing the gender inequality that persists in our culture. You can like them on facebook by searching VUWSA Women’s Group.