Sexual Consent, Assault & Harassment

Sexual Consent / Relationships

Relationships and dating can be really exciting but it can get complicated and confusing around sex and intimacy. At times it can be unclear how the other person feels, and messages can be confusing and read wrong.  When it comes to sex it is always important that you both give permission for sex or intimacy, which basically is consent. Sex without consent can mean sexual assault or rape. Below are some tips on navigating this complex area.

Here is a great video that explains consent - Consent it’s as simple as Tea

Below are some tips on navigating this complex area:

The only way to know for sure whether someone has consented to sex is if they tell you. It can be hard to let people know you’re not interested. People might look happy about doing something, but on the inside they might not be, and don’t know how to tell you they’re uncomfortable. To be absolutely clear, you should ask them. Here’s some suggestions on how to ask:

  • Are you happy?
  • Are you comfortable?
  • Is there anything you don’t want to do?
  • Do you want to stop?
  • Do you want to have sex?


Examples of body language that can mean someone isn’t comfortable with what’s going on include:

  • Not responding to your touch
  • Pushing you away
  • Holding their arms tightly around their bodies
  • Turning away from you or hiding their face
  • Stiffening muscles

If you get a negative or non-committal answer to any of your questions, or if your partner’s body language is negative, stop what you are doing and talk to them about it.

Holding hands, sending flirty texts, kissing, hugging and touching are all ways of being intimate without having sex. You might enjoy kissing, but not feel ready to have sex or you might have had sex before, but not feel like it every time you kiss, or get intimate. It’s really important to make sure both of you are comfortable with what’s happening. Everyone has the right to say no. Equally, everyone has the right to change their mind at any time, regardless of their past experiences.

It's okay at any stage to want to stop. You do not have to continue, even if you've consented previously in your interaction. Communicate with your partner that you'd like to stop. Equally, pay attention to your partner, too. Consent is all about an ongoing and enthusiastic 'yes'. Here are some ways you can communicate you'd like to stop:

  • I'd like to stop now.
  • No, I'm not comfortable with this.
  • This isn't working for me.


Consent is not about the absence of 'no'. It's about the presence of an ongoing 'yes'. 

Rape or Sexual Assault:

DCU takes the issue of respect, of all forms, very seriously and believes that each student should enjoy a student experience free from abuse or harassment of any type. We are here to help and support you and to ensure that you receive the support and treatment you may need following a rape or sexual assault.

Support at DCU:

A rape or sexual assault can be very difficult to deal with and we would strongly advise you to get support from a close friend and/or a member of university staff. We have dedicated advocates in DCU who have received training in supporting students who have been raped / sexually assaulted, and they will provide you with support for as long as you need this. You will be treated with complete confidentiality. The following people can be contacted, and will know how to help you:

Student Health Centre

Counselling Staff

SS&D (Claire Bohan / Annabella Stover / Ruan Kennedy)

SU Sabbaticals


The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre have a 24/7 line that you can call for support and advice on rape and sexual assault. Tel: 1800 77 8888

What will happen if I approach a member of staff in DCU?

The member of staff will talk to you about the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) and the work that the medical team there do. SATU will most likely carry out a full physical examination and provide whatever treatment is necessary.

SATU also provide psychological support for as long as you may need.

DCU can arrange for the DCU Liaison Guard to meet you confidentially and talk through what will happen if you do decide to report. The Liaison Guards are DCU-dedicated Guards who support our student body and have experience with crimes of this nature. The member of staff can stay with you through the meeting or you may choose to bring a friend, it’s up to you. Following this meeting, you may decide to go ahead and report, and, in conjunction with the Liaison Guard, we will support you in doing this…or you may decide not to report, in which case, we will simply continue to support you in whatever way you need us.

If you do not want the University to provide support, you can contact the National Sexual Violence Helpline or call 180077888 or the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) directly. Details can be found here.

Resources / Information

Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU)

The Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) provides physical and psychological support if you have, or think you have been raped.  In the case of a rape, it is crucial that you get immediate care from a medical team, who will provide care and treatment to you in a professional and non-judgemental manner. You can contact a member of staff 24/7.

My Options

My Options is a service provided by the HSE which provides information and support on all of your options following an unplanned pregnancy.

DCU Student Health Centre

The Health Centre at DCU provides support for all students. You can arrange to speak to a nurse free of charge and be supported.

DCU Counselling Service

If your preference is to speak to a Counsellor in the first instance, you will find details of the counselling team here. Make it clear when you are registering that you need to make an emergency appointment, to avoid delays.

DCU Sexual Misconduct Policy

DCU is committed to providing a safe environment for students and staff, and regards as completely unacceptable any form of sexual misconduct. DCU’s Sexual Misconduct Policy further outlines the University’s position in this regard. 

DCU is committed to tackling sexual assault and harassment and has developed an Action Plan to support the national Framework for Consent. DCU's Action Plan can be accessed here.

A new Reporting Tool - Speak Out - which will allow students report incidents of sexual assault, harassment or bullying anonymously will be available on these webpages in Autumn 2021. The University will take these cases very seriously and fully support students wishing to speak out.