What Is and Is Not Consent

Knowing, voluntary, and clear permission, through word or action, to engage in mutually agreed upon sexual activity or contact.

In situations where force is used, or an individual is incapacitated, a sexual interaction is not consensual.

Since different people may experience the same interactions differently, each party is responsible for making sure that partners have provided ongoing, clear consent to engaging in any sexual activity or contact.

A person may withdraw consent at any time during sexual activity or contact through words or actions. If that happens, the other party must immediately cease the activity or contact. Pressuring another person into sexual activity can constitute coercion, which is also considered to be sexual misconduct.

Silence or the absence of resistance alone does not constitute consent. An individual is not required to resist or say “no” for an offense to be proven.

Consent to some forms of sexual activity (e.g., kissing, fondling, etc.) should not be construed as consent for other kinds of sexual activities (e.g., intercourse).

Being or having been in a dating relationship with the other party does not mean that consent for sexual activity exists.

Previous consent to sexual activity does not imply consent to sexual activity in the future.

To legally give consent in Ohio, an individual must be at least 18 years old.


Force is defined as the direct or indirect use of physical violence and/or imposing physically on someone to gain sexual access.


Incapacitation is defined as a state in which individuals are unable to make rational, reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to understand the “who, what, when, where, why, or how” of a situation or interaction. Individuals cannot give sexual consent if they can’t understand what is happening, or if they are disoriented, helpless, asleep, or unconscious for any reasons. That applies even if it is because they voluntarily consumed alcohol or drugs. Unless consent is “knowing,” it is not valid.

Those engaging in sexual activity who know or should have known that the other party is incapacitated are engaging in sexual misconduct. The possession, use, distribution, and/or administration of any incapacitating substances is prohibited.

The fact that a responding party was intoxicated, and thus did not realize the reporting party was incapacitated, does not excuse sexual misconduct.