Prevention

Risk reduction tips can often take a victim-blaming tone, even unintentionally.  We have no intention of blaming victims, and we recognize that only those who commit sexual violence are responsible for those actions, but we do think these suggestions may help you to reduce your risk of experiencing a non-consensual sexual act.  Suggestions to avoid committing a non-consensual sexual act are outlined below:
  • If you have limits, make them known as early as possible.
  • Tell a sexual aggressor “NO” clearly and firmly.
  • Try to remove yourself from the physical presence of a sexual aggressor.
  • 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 a drunk or high 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 them when they do.

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 them a chance to clearly relate their intentions to you.
  • Understand and respect personal boundaries.
  • DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS about consent, about someone’s sexual availability, about whether they are attracted to you, about how far you can go or about whether they are 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 them.  They may not have figured out how far they want to go with you yet. You must respect the timeline for sexual behaviors with which they are comfortable.
  • Don’t take advantage of someone’s drunkenness or drugged state, even if they did it to themselves.
  • 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. Don’t abuse that power.
  • Understand that consent to some form of sexual behavior does not automatically imply consent to any other forms of sexual behavior.
  • 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.

Ways to get out of an uncomfortable or scary situation:
  1. Remember that being in this situation is not your fault. You did not do anything wrong; it is the person who is making you uncomfortable that is to blame.
  2. Be true to yourself. Don’t feel obligated to do anything you don’t want to do.  “I don’t want to” is always a good enough reason.  Do what feels right to you and what you are comfortable with.
  3. Have a code word with your friends or family so that if you don’t feel comfortable, you can call them and communicate your discomfort without the person you are with knowing.  Your friends or family can then come to get you or make up an excuse for you to leave.
  4. Lie. If you don’t want to hurt the person’s feelings, it is better to lie and make up a reason to leave than to stay and be uncomfortable, scared, or worse.  Some excuses you could use are: needing to take care of a friend or family member, not feeling well, having somewhere else you need to be, etc.
  5. Try to think of an escape route. How would you try to get out of the room?  Where are the doors?  Windows?  Are there people around who might be able to help you?  Is there an emergency phone nearby?