Consent Is Your Right

Consent Is Your Right

Find out more about when and how to give sexual consent

What consent is

  • Freely and voluntarily giving someone permission to touch you
  • Wanting to participate in a sexual activity and saying “yes”  

What consent isn’t

  • Wearing any type of clothes — even if they are “sexy” or revealing
  • Spending time with someone
  • Having sexual contact with a person in the past
  • Physical responses to sexual activities like erections, arousal or orgasms — your body cannot control its physical response to sexual stimulation even if the reaction is unwanted. 

Giving consent for one activity, like kissing, is not giving consent for other sexual activities. 

Even if you give consent at first, you can take it away at any time. Be clear and say “no” if something makes you uncomfortable. 

Who can give consent? 

Everyone involved in sexual situations must give consent. 

But some people cannot give consent, even if they say “yes.” 

This includes people who are:

  • Underage 
  • Intoxicated, drunk or under the influence of drugs
  • Being pressured, intimidated or threatened, especially if you are in an unequal power relationship
  • Unable to understand the nature of the activity

The age of consent is different in each state. In the military, it’s 16.

Power distance 

Power distance is the inequality that exists between people in different positions, such as:

  • Officer vs. enlisted
  • Doctor vs. patient 
  • Higher rank vs. lower rank
  • Trainee vs. instructor
  • GS employees vs. contractors vs. active-duty personnel  

If someone who outranks you is pressuring you into sexual activity, remember that their rank does not give them the right to do something to you that you do not want. 

Consent is your right. Sexual assault is not your fault.

If you’ve been sexually assaulted, the DOD Safe Helpline offers confidential, anonymous support. 

Text your ZIP Code or installation/base name to 202-470-5546 or visit


This resource was created with support from the Ready, Healthy & Able program funders.

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