Thames Valley Police is working to raise awareness and understanding of sexual consent.
The force is working in partnership with Oxfordshire Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre, Rape Crisis Wycombe and Oxford University Students Union, as part of The Thames Valley Sexual Violence Prevention Group.
Support is available for those who have experienced sexual abuse and rape:
- Oxfordshire Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre 0800 783 6294.
- Rape Crisis (Wycombe, Chiltern and South Buckinghamshire) 01494 462 222.
- Aylesbury Vale Rape Crisis 01296 392 468.
- Trust House Reading 0118 958 4033.
- Refuge 0800 221 8186.
- Thames Valley Police 101. In an emergency dial 999.
What is sexual consent?
Sexual consent is where a person has the freedom to agree to sexual activity. It is vital the person instigating sex makes sure their partner is participating freely and readily.
To have sex without consent is to commit rape.
Follow #ConsentisEverything and visit the Consent is Everything website.
Consent – it’s simple as tea.
Understanding consent is simple and this short video featured below explains why.
Responsibility for rape rests solely with the perpetrator. The below attributes do not automatically mean consent to sex.
- Dating, flirting, kissing or being friendly or intimate does not mean consent.
- Consenting in the past or being in a relationship does not mean consent is automatically given in the future.
- Being married or in a relationship does not mean automatic consent.
- Both parties have to agree to sex. When someone is asleep or unconscious they cannot give consent. Someone on drugs or too drunk to make decisions doesn’t have the mental capacity to give consent.
- If someone is on drugs or is too drunk to consent, stop. Wait until they are sober and ask again.
If you think one or both people are incapable of consenting step in and say something before it goes too far.
Other things can also affect a person’s capacity to consent, for example a serious mental health problem, learning disability or a head injury.
Having capacity means the person can make and communicate a decision, understand the consequences and know they have a choice. If they cannot do this, they cannot give consent.
Partners have the right to withdraw their consent at any time.
Once consent is withdrawn sexual activity must stop immediately. To continue is to commit a crime.
Make sure you have Sexual Consent
The person seeking or instigating sex can confirm if they have consent both verbally and by checking the other person’s body language.
If they do not have consent, or the other person is not capable of giving consent, they must stop.
- Check with partners each time a new type of sexual activity is started.
- Check with them on each occasion any sexual conduct begins.
- Look at their body language and facial expression to see if they are eager and comfortable.
- Ask them if they are okay.
- Know that silence, or the absence of a “no” does not guarantee somebody is consenting.
- Stop, if they seem unhappy, or you are not sure if they are consenting.
- Know that a clear affirmative freely-given “yes” indicates consent.
Rape is a crime.
It happens to men and women. Rape occurs when a person penetrates another person’s mouth, anus or vagina with their penis without consent.
If someone initially agrees to have sex, but later withdraws their consent and the other person continues anyway, that person will have committed rape.
Being drunk or on drugs is not a defence.
Being accused of rape has life-changing consequences:
- Suspects will be arrested and questioned by the police.
- Their belongings will be seized and DNA taken, analysed and added to a database.
- A suspect charged with rape will appear in Crown Court before a judge and jury for trial.
- A convicted rapist could be sent to prison. The maximum sentence is life imprisonment.
- Offenders would be ordered to sign the sex offenders register.
- After being convicted it may be harder to get a job or a place at university.
- Offenders may not be able to travel to some countries.
- Offenders may also damage or even lose relationships with friends and families.