Yes, No and #MeToo

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In the age of the #MeToo movement, it might seem like consent has become a bad word. But at its core, consent is about boundaries, respect and, most of all, it is only yours to give. You can say no to anything at any time.

When it comes to sex, both people involved must freely agree — every single time — for it to be consensual. And every person has the right stop engaging in a sexual activity, even if a ‘yes’ was given at first. In other words, you can take back your consent. Also, consenting to one kind of sexual activity does not mean you consent to others. You have the final say over what happens with your body.

Consent is never implied by things like past behaviour, what you wear or where you go.

In Canada, the law requires that a person take steps to find out whether the other person is consenting and outlines situations when sex is not consensual:

  1. You communicate, through your words or actions, that you do not want to participate in sex.

  2. Someone else consents for you. No one can give permission on your behalf to engage in sex.

  3. You are incapacitated, for example by alcohol or drugs or being unconscious.

  4. There is an abuse of trust or authority, where someone’s position of power is used to coerce sex from another person.

One of the scenarios often heard about is when a survivor was in shock, didn’t want to further provoke the other person, or didn’t feel like they had a choice in what was happening, so they stayed quiet during the assault. Silence, or the absence of a no, does not equal consent.

If you or someone you love has been a victim of sexual assault, there is help available.

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