Understanding Consent and Sexual Violence


Consent is a voluntary, ongoing, active and conscious agreement to engage in the sexual activity in question. Consent or a "yes" that is obtained through pressure, coercion, force, threats or by inducing intoxication, impairment, or incapacity is not voluntary consent. Silence or ambiguity do not constitute consent.

Additionally, there is no consent when:

  • it is given by someone else.
  • the person is unconscious, sleeping, highly intoxicated or high, or otherwise lacks the capacity to consent.
  • it was obtained through the abuse of a position of power, trust or authority.
  • the person does not indicate "yes", says "no" or implies "no" through words or behaviours.
  • the person changes their mind and withdraws their consent.

Consent cannot be implied (for example, by a current or past relationship, by consent to another activity, or by failure to say "no" or resist). In addition, consent cannot be given in advance of sexual activity that is expected to occur at a later time.

It is the responsibility of the person wanting to engage in sexual activity to obtain clear consent from the other and to recognize that consent can be withdrawn at any time.

Understanding Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is a complex and serious problem that can affect individuals of all gender identities, gender expressions, and sexual orientations, as well as those from all ages, abilities, racial, cultural, and economic backgrounds.

Sexual violence is any sexual act, act of a sexual nature, or act targeting sexuality, physical or psychological, that is committed without consent. It includes, but is not limited to the following:

Sexual assault
Any form of sexual contact without consent. This can include unwanted or forced 'kissing,' fondling, vaginal or anal penetration or touching, or oral sexual contact.

Sexual harassment
Conduct or comment of a sexual nature, which detrimentally affects the work, study, or living environment or otherwise leads to adverse consequences for the target of the sexual harassment. It can be either one-time or repeated and:

  • is demeaning, intimidating, threatening, or abusive; and
  • is not trivial or fleeting in nature; and
  • causes offence and should have reasonably been expected to offend; and
  • serves no legitimate purpose for the work, study or living environment, and
  • undermines authority or respect in the work, study, or living environment, or impairs work or learning performance, or limits opportunities for advancement or the pursuit of education or research, or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work or learning environment.

Repeated unwanted contact or communication directed at another person that causes reasonable fear or concern for that person's safety or the safety of others known to them. The harm may be physical, emotional, or psychological, or related to the personal safety, property, education, or employment of an individual.

Stalking can occur physically, electronically, and/or through a third party.

Indecent Exposure
Exposing one's genitals, buttocks and/or breasts or inducing another to expose their own genitals, buttocks and/or breasts in non-consensual circumstances, in person or electronically.

Surreptitiously observing and/or recording another individual's full or partial nudity or sexual activity without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved.

Distribution of Intimate Images
Includes showing, sharing, distributing or streaming of images, video or audio recording of a sexual activity or full or partial nudity of oneself or others, without the consent of all parties involved, or the threat to do the same.


Sexual violence also includes inducing intoxication, impairment, or incapacity for the purpose of making another person vulnerable to non-consensual sexual activity, and other analogous conduct.

It is the policy of the University of Alberta that sexual violence committed by any member of the University community is prohibited and constitutes misconduct.