At the individual level, there are practical strategies for reducing risk of sexual misconduct, but it is important to note that no strategy can fully eliminate the risk of sexual misconduct, and that it is never your fault if you are sexually assaulted or otherwise harmed by sexual misconduct.
Below are some practical strategies for reducing risk of sexual assault, but it is important to note that no strategy can fully eliminate the risk of sexual assault, and that it is never your fault if you are sexually assaulted.
Understanding and Obtaining Consent
It is important to understand that 90% of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim; up to 78% of reported sexual assaults in college occur in a “hook up” context; and 75% or more of reported sexual assaults in college involve alcohol (click here for more information and statistics about sexual assault). Accordingly, understanding, communicating about, and obtaining consent are key steps in reducing the risk of sexual assault.
- Understand that mixing alcohol or drugs with sexual activity is always risky. Do not engage in sexual activity if either or both parties are intoxicated.
- Talk to your partner about your desires, limits and boundaries. Ask for - and obtain - consent. Sample questions to ask:
Is there anything you don't want to do?
I really want to hug/kiss... you. Can I? What do you want to do with me?
Have you ever...? Would you like to try it with me?
Does this feel good?
Do you want to stop?
Do you want to go further?
Are you ok?
- Listen and watch for signs that your partner is not consenting - remember - you are looking for an enthusiastic yes!
- Says something like: "no," "slow down," "I'm not comfortable," "that's enough," "can we just talk?";
- Not responding to your touch;
- Pushing you away;
- Holding their arms around their body;
- Turning away from you or hiding their face;
- Stiffening muscles;
- Tears; and/or
- Falling asleep or losing consciousness.
If your partner gives anything less than an enthusiastic yes, including the signs above, STOP what you are doing and ASK your partner if they're ok and if they want to continue.
- Respect your partner's decision: saying no or demonstrating the signs above does not mean "maybe" or "try harder."
Other Strategies to Reduce the Risk of Sexual Assault
- Trust your gut. Do not hesitate to leave or ask for help if something doesn't feel right.
- Make a pact with your friends to watch out for one another and make sure everyone gets home safely.
- Be an active bystander.
- Take the Rape Aggression Defense course presented by University Police.
- Always monitor your drink, and don't accept drinks from anyone you don't know or trust.
- Respect a person’s wishes related to contact with them.
- Say “that wasn’t funny” if you hear someone telling an offensive joke.
- Tell someone if you see or hear of someone exhibiting behavior that is making you uncomfortable.
- Take a minute to consider the implications of comments, jokes, or stories before sharing them with others.
Don’t post sexually explicit material on social media or in public spaces.
Don’t send or post pictures of yours or others’ genitalia.
Don’t touch someone without their permission.
Don’t continue to ask someone out if they have already declined.
Below are some practical strategies for reducing risk of stalking, but it is important to note that no strategy can fully eliminate the risk of stalking, and that it is never your fault if you are stalked.
- Most importantly, trust your instincts. If something doesn't feel right, tell someone (preferably law enforcement and/or the Office for Institutional Equity and Title IX).
- Don't post - or remove any postings of - personal contact information on social media and/or other websites.
- Don't give your passwords or log in information to anyone - including your signifcant other.
- If someone tells you they don't want to communicate with you, or if they stop responding, take the hint and stop contacting them.
- Change up your routes and routines.