No one deserves to be sexually assaulted, stalked or victimized in any way. What can you do to help reduce your risk of becoming a victim of sexual violence?
- Be aware of your surroundings and environment. Trust your feelings; if it feels wrong, it probably is.
- If you have limits, make them known to your partner as early as possible.
- Tell a sexual aggressor “NO” clearly and firmly.
- Try to remove yourself from the physical presence of a sexual aggressor, even if he/she is a friend.
- Find someone nearby and ask for help.
- Take affirmative responsibility for your alcohol intake/drug use and acknowledge that alcohol/drugs lower your sexual inhibitions and may make you vulnerable to someone who views an intoxicated person as a sexual opportunity.
- Take care of your friends and ask that they take care of you. A real friend will challenge you if you are about to make a mistake. Respect him/her when he/she does.
- Never leave a party alone with someone you don’t know well and trust.
If you find yourself in the position of being the initiator of sexual behavior, you owe sexual respect to your potential partner. These suggestions may help you to reduce your risk for being accused of sexual misconduct:
- Clearly communicate your intentions to your sexual partner and give him/her a chance to clearly relate his/her intentions to you.
- Understand and respect personal boundaries of your potential partner. “No” means “No!” and “stop” means “Stop!”. Don’t mistake submission or silence for consent.
- Don’t make assumptions about consent; about someone’s sexual promiscuity; about whether he/she is attracted to you; about how far you can go; or about whether he/she is physically and/or mentally able to consent. If there are any questions or ambiguity then 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 him/her. He/she may not have figured out how far he/she wants to go with you yet. You must respect the timeline for sexual behaviors with which he/she is comfortable.