Sexual Violence Risk Reduction
Sexual violence risk reduction is an important part of the University’s efforts to eliminate sex and gender-based misconduct. Often, however, attempts to educate students by discussing risk-reduction tips can be perceived as taking on a victim-blaming tone. With no intention to set such a tone, and with affirmative recognition that those who commit acts of sexual violence are and should be held responsible for their actions, these tips are offered in an effort to help students reduce their risk of experiencing non-consensual sexual contact or activity.
- Make your limits known as early as possible.
- If you find yourself in a position where another is exceeding your permissible limits by being sexually aggressive, tell the aggressor “NO” clearly and firmly.
- Try to remove yourself from the physical presence of any sexual aggressor.
- Call for help or find someone nearby and ask for help.
- Take affirmative control of your alcohol intake or drug use. Drugs and alcohol lower your normal inhibitions and may make you vulnerable to one who views you as drunk or high and gives that person and opportunity to take advantage of the situation.
- Friends take care of friends! Take care of your friends and ask that they take care of you. A friend will challenge you if you are about to make a mistake just as you should challenge them in a reverse situation. You should respect each other when they do.
If you are the initiator of sexual behavior, you owe respect to your potential partner. These suggestions may help reduce the risk of you being accused of sexual misconduct.
- Clearly communicate your intentions to your prospective sexual partner and give them a chance to relate their intentions and expectations to you.
- Understand and respect all personal boundaries.
- Do not make assumptions about consent, about one’s sexual availability, about whether they are attracted to you, about how far you can go or about whether they are physically or mentally capable of giving consent. If there are questions, if you are uncertain, or if there is ambiguity, you do not have consent.
- Mixed messages from your partner are a clear indication that you should stop, defuse any sexual tension and communicate better. You may be misreading them. They may not have figured out how far they want to go with you yet. You must respect the timeline or boundaries for sexual behaviors with which they are comfortable.
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- Don’t take advantage of someone’s drunkenness or drugged state, even if they did it to themselves. Intoxication, even if voluntary, can negate the effectiveness of consent and cause a sexual encounter to be without consent and potentially illegal.
- Realize that your potential partner could be intimidated by you, or fearful. You may have a power advantage simply because of your gender or size. Consent obtained through coercion is not deemed effective and may cause any contact to be considered non-consensual and potentially illegal. Don’t abuse that power.
- Understand that consent has limits and consent to some forms of sexual behavior does not automatically imply consent to any other forms of sexual behavior.
- Prior sexual relations with someone should not be assumed that the individual has or will consent to current or future sexual activity.
- Silence and passivity cannot be interpreted as an indication of consent. Read your potential partner carefully, paying attention to verbal and non-verbal communication and body language.