It is the responsibility of all of us to make sure our community is free from sexual misconduct. The following strategies are provided to assist you in having healthy and safe sexual encounters and to avoid potentially dangerous situations.
Prevention: How to avoid committing sexual misconduct
If you find yourself in the position of being the initiator of sexual behavior, show respect to your potential partner and yourself. These suggestions may help you avoid committing and/or being accused of sexual misconduct:
- Clearly communicate your intentions and give the other person a chance to clearly communicate his/her intentions to you.
- Listen carefully. Take time to hear what the other person has to say. If you feel you are receiving unclear or conflicting messages from the other person, stop and defuse any sexual tension then discuss your intentions.
- Do not assume that you have consent to sexual activity just because someone leaves or goes to a private location with you.
- Understand and respect personal boundaries. Do not pressure a potential partner. Do not fall for the cliché if they say “No," they really mean “Yes." If the other person says, “No" to sexual activity, believe them and stop.
- Don’t make assumptions about consent; someone’s sexual availability; whether they are attracted to you; how far you can go; or whether they are physically and/or mentally able to consent. If there are any questions or ambiguity, you DO NOT have consent. Stop and communicate.
- Don’t take advantage of someone’s drunken, drugged or otherwise incapacitated state.
- Realize that your potential partner could be intimidated by you. You may have a power advantage simply because of your gender, status or size. Don’t abuse that power.
- Understand that consent to one form of sexual activity does not constitute consent for any other sexual activity.
- Silence and passivity cannot be interpreted as an indication of consent. Read the other person carefully, paying attention to verbal and non‐verbal communication and body language. If it is not clear by the other person’s words and/or actions that he/she is a willing participant, you need to stop.
Protection Strategies: How to Mitigate Your Risk
- It is never your fault if someone takes sexual advantage of you but there are things you can do to mitigate that risk. These strategies are provided with no intention to victim‐blame and with recognition that only those who commit sexual violence are responsible for such conduct.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe about a person or situation, trust your gut and remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible.
- Be aware of your alcohol intake and/or other drug use and understand that alcohol and/or other drugs can impair your judgment and lower your sexual inhibitions. This could make you vulnerable to someone who views a drunk or high person as a sexual opportunity.
- Don’t leave your drink unattended and don’t accept drinks from someone you don’t know or trust. If you’ve left your drink alone, get a new one.
- Know your sexual limits and make them known as early as possible in a potential intimate situation.
- If you do not want to engage in a particular activity, tell the other person “No" clearly and firmly.
- Try to remove yourself from the physical presence of a sexual aggressor if you can do so safely. If someone is nearby, ask for help or, if it is safe to do so, text or call someone.
- Watch out for your friends and ask that they do the same for you. A real friend will step in and challenge you if they see you are in a potentially dangerous situation. Respect them when they do. If a friend seems "out of it," is too intoxicated, or is acting out of character, get your friend to a safe place immediately.
- Don’t go somewhere with someone you don’t know well. If you leave a party with a new friend, tell the friends you came with where you are going and when you are coming back.