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Sexual Violence

Consent means everyone is really into what’s going on. Any type of sexual activity without consent is sexual violence. It is never okay and there are no grey areas.

It's easy to talk about what consent means, but what does it look like in real life?

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If you are not sure what to do or where to turn, a good starting point is talking with the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office ( You can talk with them about what happened to you and they will listen. When you are ready, they will also give you information about what your options are, how you can find more support, and what next steps you might consider taking.

You can find more support services and resources on campus and in the community on our Crisis Support page.


One in three women will experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime.

One in six men will experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime.


(Adapted from McMaster University Sexual Violence Response Protocol and SACHA)

What is Sexual Violence?

Sexual violence is a broad term that describes any violence, physical or psychological, carried out through sexual means or by targeting sexuality. This violence takes different forms including sexual abuse, sexual assault, rape, incest, childhood sexual abuse, and rape during armed conflict. It also includes sexual harassment, stalking, indecent or sexualized exposure, degrading sexual imagery, voyeurism, cyber harassment, trafficking, and sexual exploitation.

Sexual assault is caused by perpetrators; it is not caused by clothing, flirting, alcohol, or your location. Perpetrators of sexual violence are usually known to the victim.

Sexual violence is perpetrated by a rape culture, and it must be understood as systems of violent expressions of power and dominance in the context of deeply oppressive societies.


(Adapted from McMaster University Sexual Violence Response Protocol and SACHA)

What is Consent?

Consent is approval, given freely, willingly, and knowingly by each participant to desired sexual involvement. It must be given through ongoing communication by words and actions. It occurs continuously and moment to moment, and can be withdrawn at any time.

Consent cannot be assumed or implied. Consent cannot be given if a person’s ability to resist or consent is substantially impaired. Examples where consent cannot be given include, but are not limited to being:

  • Unconscious
  • Frightened
  • Physically or psychologically coerced
  • Intimidated
  • Guilt-tripped
  • Substantially impaired because of voluntary intoxication
  • Substantially impaired because of the deceptive administering of any drug, intoxicant, or substance


(Adapted from McMaster University Sexual Violence Response Protocol and The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada)

Conset is Freely given, Reversible, Informed, Enthusiastic, and Specific


(Adapted from Planned Parenthood)