How do you know if you're ready?
"Whatever you do with a girl you have to get permission first, and if you don't, it can be sexual assault" Pete, aged 14
How can I tell if my partner is ready? Click here
Sex when you choose it can be great. 'Free agreement' means you do something because you really want to do it - not because you're forced, scared or threatened. Free agreement means safer sex because both people are comfortable and enjoying themselves.
Another word for free agreement is 'consent'. Sex without consent is a crime.
There are 3 things a person must be before they can give their FREE AGREEMENT:
» the right age: they must be old enough to make sexual decisions and to know what sex is about
» must be sober: if someone is drunk, stoned or out of it their ability to make decisions is impaired...so they're not really able to give free agreement
» mental and physical ability: a person has to have the mental ability to make decisions and the physical ability to communicate their desires
THE LAW says having free agreement is really important. If you have had sex or done sexual things without giving your free agreement, a crime has been committed against you. Here are some examples where people might say yes to having sex or doing sexual stuff but, legally, they are not giving free agreement:
|.... All of these examples are based on stories we have heard from young people....|
|They say yes because they are forced or afraid
|| example > someone threatens to break up with you because you won't have sex with them
|They say yes because they are afraid of harm of any type to themselves or someone else
|| example > someone threatens to spread rumours about you or hurt your family or friends if you don't do something
|They say yes because of being unlawfully detained
|| example > someone locks you in a room and says you're not allowed to leave until you have sex with them
|They are asleep, unconscious or so affected by alcohol or another drug that they can't freely consent
||example > someone has quite a few drinks and is not able to give consent but someone does sexual stuff to them|
|They are incapable of understanding the sexual nature of the act
||example > someone has a disability or mental illness|
|They are mistaken about the sexual nature of the act and the identity of the person|| example > two brothers look very alike and are nearly the same age. One of them brings a girl home and sleeps with her, and during the night while she's asleep the brothers swap places. In the morning the girl has sex with the second brother, thinking he's the first brother. (Both brothers were charged with sexual assault under criminal law.)
|They are mistaken in the belief that the act is for medical or hygienic purposes
example > a doctor or nurse makes you do something unnecessary and uncomfortable, but makes you believe it is necessary for your health....like making you take your pants off to examine you for a chest infection
|choice||do you really want to have sex? do you feel pressured or forced?|
|safe||can you trust the person you're with?|
|sure||have you thought this through and decided it's the right time for you?|
|comfortable||can you be yourself, change your mind, try new things, talk honestly?|
|confident||is this situation in your control?|
"You have a choice about when your pants come down and no one should make that decision for you" Maria, aged 17
[ To take the relationship warning signs quiz, click here ]
Answer: You can ask.
Does the person you're with.....
- change the subject when you try to talk about sex?
- get a really weird look on their face, like they're scared or confused?
- freeze up when you touch them or undress them?
- make excuses to avoid getting into sex? (like, "I'm really tired")
- grumble, groan or make other uncomfortable noises?
- suddenly go totally silent?
- show they're not interested through their body language (e.g. pushing you away, turning away)?
All of these things might be signs that the person you're with is not really ready for sex, but feels too embarrassed or scared to speak up.
It sounds easy, but in real life it's really hard for someone to speak up and say they're not comfortable, especially if they're worried about hurting your feelings or not giving you what you want.
If you can see the signs and you're not sure, just ask them if they're okay. It's a great way to make sure you're not forcing them into anything and it will also make you feel a lot better. The problem is, asking about sex can be really embarrassing and could make you feel awkward or hurt (especially if you thought everything was okay and you feel ready).
To make it easier, here are some things you could say to check if your partner is comfortable:
- "Is this what you want?"
- "Are you comfortable?"
- "Is anything wrong?"
- "Are you ready to do this?"
- "Do you want me to stop?"
- "Do you feel okay doing this?"
REMEMBER: Checking that your partner is consenting to sex is the best way to avoid sexual assault. (And sex is much better when both people are relaxed and comfortable!)