We define consent as an ENTHUSIASTIC YES!

“Consent is sexy because it means people are into it. It’s a very important part of a respectful sexual relationship!”

Consent is a free agreement between people who might want to do sexual stuff together. When we say free agreement, we aren’t talking about cost, we mean free as in people feel free to say how they really feel about something, without feeling pressured into doing something that they don’t want to do.

Another way to think about consent is as an 'enthusiastic yes'. Enthusiastic means you are really excited and keen to do something. If and when you choose to do sexual stuff it's your choice and you shouldn't be doing it if you feel you have to.

Consent is about getting clear ‘Yes’ messages and knowing for sure that anyone you are with is all good with what is happening. If you aren’t sure if someone is consenting to something, stop and ask them how they’re feeling. Always remember that consent is not a contract, and you can change your mind at any time.

1. In BodySafe we focus on three times in particular, where people cannot give their consent.

If they are under 16 years old. In Aotearoa New Zealand, the legal age of consent is 16 years old. The law protects young people from older people who might be trying to take advantage of them. It is not intended to punish young people who are thinking about doing sexual stuff. Everyone involved must be 16 years of age or older to consent to sex. If you are under 16 it is best to wait to have sex.

If they are too drunk or high. People can't consent to sex if they are too drunk or high on drugs. Alcohol and drugs influence the way we communicate and think about sex. If you are unsure if someone is too drunk then it is best to wait until you are both sober. It is always the responsibility of the person initiating sex to make sure you are all sober.

If they are being forced, pressured or threatened. If someone is forced, pressured or threatened it means they do not have a choice to have sex. This is not a free agreement together. Physical force is a type of force, but there is also emotional force, coercion, pressure and making someone feel like if they don’t do sexual stuff something bad might happen.

There are also other times when people cannot give their consent to do sexual stuff:

  • If someone is asleep or unconscious
  • If someone is so affected by an intellectual, mental or physical condition or impairment that they are unable to communicate their consent or refuse consent.
  • If someone does sexual stuff because they are mistaken about the other person’s identity.
  • If someone does sexual stuff because they are mistaken about what sexual stuff will be happening. For example, if someone gives their consent to vaginal sex but then anal sex happens without their consent.

Remember that this is not all of the times that someone cannot give their consent to do sexual stuff, but this is what the Crimes Act 1961 Section 128A says about consent. 


Consent may look and sound like:

  • Yes!
  • I really want to...
  • This feels great!
  • I want you/this/that
  • Can we do more of that?
  • This feels right
  • Undressing

No consent may look and sound like:

  • No
  • Stop
  • I feel scared
  • I’m not sure I want to do this
  • That hurts
  • Silence
  • I want to, but not right now
  • Slurred words
  • This feels wrong
  • Moving away
  • Crying
  • Putting clothes back on

Consent needs to be a part of every sexual experience. Someone staying silent or saying maybe is not consent. People can change their mind at anytime whether it’s before anything actually happens, or half way through. Consent is not a contract.

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We have four steps to consent to help people have that conversation! Getting consent for sexual stuff is basically just the same as getting consent for anything else, like what movie to watch, where to go on the weekend, or what to eat together.

1.    ASK

First of all ask yourself what you are keen to do sexually. Ask the person you are with the same thing – it can be as simple as “So…what do you want to do?” or “Are you sure you want to do this”? It can sometimes be tempting to try and ask in subtle ways without actually directly saying what you want. The trouble with that is sometimes the other person may not be sure what you mean or thinks you mean something else (which can often make things awkward). We think that it’s best to just be straight-up and direct so that there’s no room for confusion.

2.    LISTEN

Listen for ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ messages from yourself and the other person. When listening, remember to notice body language as well as what is being said out loud – some people find it really hard to say ‘No’ verbally if they aren’t keen on what is happening.

It also involves your physical reactions. If it hurts stop. Sex should not hurt.

If someone is saying 'Maybe', 'I’m not sure', backing away, staying really still or being silent they are not saying ‘Yes’. Back off and ask them how they are feeling.

'No' messages can be things like looking sad or upset, refusing to make eye contact, crying, being very still, moving away or not responding to touch, putting their clothes back on.

'Yes' messages can be things like people looking happy, making eye contact, moving towards and responding to touch, kissing back, taking their clothes off.


Respect the person you are asking to do sexual stuff with. You might be keen to be sexual with them, but if they’re not so sure - show respect and stop what you’re doing. Respect how they might be feeling. Don’t force, pressure or guilt them into doing something they don’t want to do. Respect your own morals and beliefs as well, they are what make us unique. The right person will respect these also.

4.    CHECK-IN

This means looking back on something that has happened and thinking about how it made you feel, whether it’s sexual or not. Checking in with yourself on what you’ve done sexually can help you learn about what you like or don’t like. It is also useful to talk with the person you were with, see what they liked, and what they want to do again.

Sex without consent is sexual violence and is never okay.