Understanding Consent Porterville College

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This presentation includes reading, videos, web links, and other content regarding sexual assault and other forms of violence. It is possible that something you read/watch during this presentation will trigger an emotional response, whether or not you have experienced sexual violence yourself. Please seek help if needed.

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Employees can get confidential help by using the KCCD Employee Assistance Program.

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What is consent?

Consent is an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent should be clearly and freely communicated. A verbal and affirmative expression of consent can help both you and your partner to understand and respect each other’s boundaries.

Consent cannot be given by individuals who are underage, intoxicated or incapacitated by drugs or alcohol, or asleep or unconscious.

How does consent work?

When you’re engaging in sexual activity, consent is about communication. And it should happen every time for every type of activity. Consenting to one activity, one time, does not mean someone gives consent for other activities or for the same activity on other occasions.

For example, agreeing to kiss someone doesn’t give that person permission to remove your clothes. Having sex with someone in the past doesn’t give that person permission to have sex with you again in the future.

It’s important to discuss boundaries and expectations with your partner prior to engaging in any sexual behavior.

You can change your mind at any time.

You can withdraw consent at any point if you feel uncomfortable. One way to do this is to clearly communicate to your partner that you are no longer comfortable with this activity and wish to stop.

Withdrawing consent can sometimes be challenging or difficult to do verbally, so non-verbal cues can also be used to convey this.

The best way to ensure that all parties are comfortable with any sexual activity is to talk about it, check in periodically, and make sure everyone involved consents before escalating or changing activities.

What is enthusiastic consent?

Enthusiastic consent is a newer model for understanding consent that focuses on a positive expression of consent. Simply put, enthusiastic consent means looking for the presence of a “yes” rather than the absence of a “no.”

Enthusiastic consent can be expressed verbally or through nonverbal cues, such as positive body language like smiling, maintaining eye contact, and nodding. These cues alone do not necessarily represent consent, but they are additional details that may reflect consent. It is necessary, however, to still seek verbal confirmation.

The important part of consent, enthusiastic or otherwise, is checking in with your partner regularly to make sure that they are still on the same page.

Enthusiastic consent can look like this:

  • Asking permission before you change the type or degree of sexual activity with phrases like “Is this OK?”
  • Confirming that there is reciprocal interest before initiating any physical touch.
  • Letting your partner know that you can stop at any time.
  • Periodically checking in with your partner, such as asking “Is this still okay?”
  • Providing positive feedback when you’re comfortable with an activity.
  • Explicitly agreeing to certain activities, either by saying “yes” or another affirmative statement, like “I’m open to trying.”

Consent does NOT look like this:

  • Refusing to acknowledge “no”
  • A partner who is disengaged, nonresponsive, or visibly upset
  • Assuming that wearing certain clothes, flirting, or kissing is an invitation for anything more
  • Someone being under the legal age of consent, as defined by the state. California age of consent is 18 years of age.
  • Someone being incapacitated because of drugs or alcohol Pressuring someone into sexual activity by using fear or intimidation
  • Assuming you have permission to engage in a sexual act because you’ve done it in the past

Legal role of consent

Each state sets its own definition, either in law or through court cases. In general, there are three main ways that states analyze consent in relation to sexual acts:

  • Affirmative consent: Did the person express overt actions or words indicating agreement for sexual acts? To learn more about affirmative consent, visit Senate Bill 967, Section 1, 67686 (1)
  • Freely given consent: Was the consent offered of the person’s own free will, without being induced by fraud, coercion, violence, or threat of violence?
  • Capacity to consent: Did the individual have the capacity, or legal ability, to consent?

Consent Laws California

“Consent” is defined to mean positive cooperation in act or attitude pursuant to the exercise of free will. The person must act freely and voluntarily and have knowledge of the nature of the act or transaction involved. California Penal Code § 261.6.

Consent cannot be procured through inducing fear in the victim. California Penal Code § 266c.

Does the definition require "freely given consent" or "affirmative consent"?

Yes. California Penal Code § 261.6.

“Consent” shall be defined to mean positive cooperation in act or attitude pursuant to an exercise of free will. The person must act freely and voluntarily and have knowledge of the nature of the act or transaction involved.

At what age is a person able to consent?

18 years old. California Penal Code § 261.5.

Sex Crimes: Definitions and Penalties California

An offender commits the crime of rape by engaging in sexual intercourse with another person who is not the offender’s spouse under any of the following circumstances:

  • Where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of a mental disorder or developmental or physical disability, and this is known or reasonably should be known to the person committing the act;
  • Where the act is accomplished against a victim’s will by means of force, violence, duress, menace or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the person or another;
  • Where the victim is unable to resist because of any intoxicating or anesthetic substance, or any controlled substance and the offender knew or reasonably should have known of the victim’s condition;
  • Where the victim was unconscious of the nature of the act and this was known to the offender;
  • Where the victim submits under the belief that the offender is someone known to the victim other than the offender, and this false belief was intentionally induced by the offender’s artifice, pretense or concealment;
  • Where the act is accomplished against the victim’s will by threatening to retaliate in the future against the victim or any other person, and there is a reasonable possibility that the offender will execute the threat; or
  • Where the act is accomplished against the victim’s will by threatening to use the authority of a public official to incarcerate, arrest, or deport the victim or another person, and the victim has a reasonable belief that the offender is a public official.

Reporting to Law Enforcement

The decision to report to law enforcement is entirely yours. Some survivors say that reporting and seeking justice helped them recover and regain a sense of control over their lives. Understanding how to report and learning more about the experience can take away some of the unknowns and help you feel more prepared.

How do I report sexual assault?

You have several options for reporting sexual assault:

  • Call 911. If you are in immediate danger, dial 911. Help will come to you, wherever you are.
  • Contact the local police department. Call Porterville Police (559-782-7400) or Tulare Sheriff's Department (559-782-9650. You can also contact PC Safety & Security (559-791-2440) to report a sexual assault and for free resources.
  • Visit a medical center. If you are being treated for injuries resulting from sexual assault, tell a medical professional that you wish to report the crime. You can also choose to have a sexual assault forensic exam. To find an appropriate local health facility that is prepared to care for survivors, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline 800.656.HOPE (4673).

To learn more about the options in your area, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673). You’ll be connected to a staff member from a local sexual assault service provider who will walk you through the process of getting help and reporting to law enforcement at your own pace. In most areas, there are specific law enforcement officers who are trained to interact with sexual assault survivors. Service providers can connect you to these officers, and might also send a trained advocate to accompany you through the reporting process.

Concerns about reporting

What are some common concerns about reporting?

If you have questions or concerns about reporting, you’re not alone. The list below may have answers to some common questions that are on your mind.

  • The perpetrator got scared away or stopped before finishing the assault. Attempted rape is a serious crime and can be reported. Reports of attempted rape and other assault are taken seriously.
  • I know the person who hurt me. About 2/3 of victims know the perpetrator. It can be unnerving to be violated by someone you know. Regardless of who the perpetrator is, sexual assault is against the law.
  • I’ve been intimate with the perpetrator in the past, or am currently in a relationship with the perpetrator. Sexual assault can occur within a relationship. Giving someone consent in the past does not give them consent for any act in the future. If you did not consent, they acted against the law—and you can report it.
  • I have no physical injuries, and I’m worried there’s not enough proof. Most sexual assaults do not result in external physical injuries. It's important to receive medical attention to check for internal injuries. You can also choose to have a sexual assault forensic exam to check for DNA evidence that may not be visible on the surface.
  • I’m worried law enforcement won’t believe me. There has been great investment in police training on this topic. While there are occasional exceptions, most law enforcement officers are understanding and on your side. If you do encounter someone who isn't taking your case seriously, ask for their supervisor and let your local sexual assault service provider know.
  • I don’t want to get in trouble. Sometimes minors are afraid of being disciplined, either by the law or by their parents, because they were doing something they shouldn’t have when the abuse occurred. For example, a teen might have been consuming alcohol, or a child might have been breaking a house rule. It’s important to remember that sexual assault is a crime—no matter the circumstances. Nothing you did caused this to happen.

Do I have to report a sexual assault to get rape kit?

By law, you are not required to report to law enforcement in order to receive a sexual assault forensic exam, commonly referred to as a “rape kit.” The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 has made it easier for someone to have a “Jane Doe rape kit,” where they are given a code to identify themselves if they choose to report later.

Will I have to pay for the exam?

By law, you should not be billed for the direct costs of a sexual assault forensic exam. The way states handle this law can vary. Since 2009, states have been required to provide sexual assault forensic exams for free or via reimbursement, regardless of cooperation with law enforcement.

Since 2015, health facilities no longer charge for exams up front and ask for victims to file reimbursement through their insurance later. If you have questions about a bill your received related to your exam or about any other aspects of the process, you can contact your local sexual assault service provider or state coalition.

Stay Safe Campaign

If You are sexually assaulted

It is important to know, the victim of the crime gets to decide how and if they want to report the crime. For example, the victim of a sexual assault can decide to report the assault to the college but not the Porterville Police Department.

If the victim decides to report the crime to the college only, they will still receive free resources (medical, counseling, assistance from victim rights) even if they do not want to identify the criminal suspect.

Preventing and Responding to sexual violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating/domestic violence and stalking are priorities for Porterville College.

If you are in danger or need help now, call 911. If you've experienced sexual violence and are not in immediate danger, find services and get help on campus.


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Created By
Todd Dearmore


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