One of the most important things you can do to help stop sexual violence (rape, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, etc.) is to become educated about it. The topics below provide a range of information on types of sexual violence and how you can help prevent it, and you can find further resources here.
What is Consent?
Consent—what is it and why is it important
Consent is an agreement between two people and is necessary to make sure that sexual activity is not against a person’s will. Consent can be ambiguous at times and is an important topic that needs to be addressed with direct, clear, and open communication. When thinking about consent, please keep the following in mind:
BOTH PARTNERS NEED TO BE FULLY AWARE: Alcohol and/or drugs interfere with the ability of a person to make proper decisions, including whether or not to be sexually active. The more intoxicated an individual is, the less consent they are able to consciously give.
BOTH PARTNERS MUST BE FREE TO STOP AT ANYTIME: Coercion must NEVER be used in any form during the sexual encounter. Both partners are free to stop at any time, even if they agreed to continue the actions initially. Coercion, even coercion done with factors such as using body size, threats of physical/emotional harm, or the use of illegal substances, must never be used to prevent a partner from stopping the encounter.
BOTH PARTNERS MUST COMMUNICATE CLEARLY: Permission to continue the encounter and/or move to the next level of intimacy should be conveyed clearly and neither partner should ever assume that consent is given. Remember, just because a person agreed to kiss or fondle does NOT mean that s/he is agreeing to a full sexual encounter. CONSENT IS NOT THE ABSENCE OF THE WORD “NO.”
BOTH PARTNERS ACT IN A SINCERE MANNER: When communicating your desire it is important to be clear that you are giving consent to the actions(s). Both partners must be honest and open during the encounter.
IMPORTANT: It is important to remember to ask for consent to ALL levels of intimacy in the encounter. As you progress to each new step of the encounter, it is important to ask for consent, ie. “Is it ok if I kiss you?”, “Is it ok if I remove your shirt?” , etc.
NEVER assume that consent for all actions is given because of consent to one action!
Sexual assault is a crime of violence motivated by the need for power and control. Sexual assault is sexual contact or penetration against your will. It includes rape, same-sex assault, incest, and child sexual abuse. Sexual assault is never your fault.
Acquaintance or Date Rape means being forced or pressured into having sex by someone you know – against your will, without having your consent. It is a violation of your body and your trust. Rape is not about sex. It is an act of violence. No one asks to be raped. Rape is against the law.
Domestic violence involves acts of abuse against another person in order to gain power and control. Abusive acts can be verbal, emotional, psychological, physical, and sexual. The abuse can also involve threats and destruction of property.
Sexual Harassment means “any unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors or any conduct of a sexual nature when (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, grade, benefit or service; (2) submission or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment, grading or other decisions affecting such individual; or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or learning environment.”
Examples of sexual harassment include, but are not limited to:
- Physical assaults of sexual nature, such as: (1) sexual assault, sexual battery, molestation, or attempts to commit these assaults; and (2) intentional physical conduct which is sexual in nature, such as patting, pinching, brushing against another’s body, etc.
- Unwanted sexual advances, propositions, or other sexual comments
- Sexual or discriminatory displays, publications, or other ritual material on university property
Stalking and Cyber-Stalking
Stalking is one person’s harassing, obsessive, or threatening behavior towards another person. Any repetitive, unwanted contact between a stalker and a victim or any behavior that threatens or places fear in that person constitutes stalking. Although there is no universally accepted definition of cyber-stalking, the term is usually used to refer to the use of the Internet, e-mail, or other electronic communications devices to stalk another person. While some conduct involving annoying or menacing behavior might fall short of illegal stalking, such behavior may be a prelude to stalking and violence, and thus should be treated seriously. Trust your intuition.
Intimate Partner Violence
Intimate Partner Violence refers to a pattern of behavior utilized by an individual to assert control and power over a former or current intimate partner, including current or former dating partner or spouse, and can be perpetrated by heterosexual or same-sex couples. This behavior includes physical violence, sexual assault, emotional, and psychological abuse. This type of behavior by students or employees (which is also known as dating, domestic, and relationship violence, battering or spousal abuse), violates the University’s policy and will not be tolerated. Anyone found in violation of said policy will be subject to severe disciplinary action which could include termination of employment, or for students, expulsion from the University.
Sexting—as it is popularly referred to—is when one person sends a sexually explicit comment, photo, or communication to another through electronic means (texts, posts, blogs, online photos, email, etc.). It is becoming more and more commonplace every day, and while some may think it is harmless flirtation, it can have VERY real consequences.
- Thinking about sending a nude picture to your friend or significant other? Think again! You NEVER know who else might see it or—if something happens—who they might give it to. You THINK they are private, but you NEVER know for sure.
- NEVER take and/or send explicit pictures—or pictures in general—of others without their consent. Not only is it rude and disrespectful, it can also be against the law to do so.
- Do you really know the age of the person in the photo that someone sent you? You may THINK the person is of age, but if s/he is a minor you are participating in child pornography even if you did not take the photo yourself. Forwarding these messages is called “distributing” and keeping them for yourself is called “possession.” Both are serious crimes with very serious legal consequences!
Use your common sense. Private pictures and conversations are called ‘private’ for a reason. Why would they be shared with people others don’t know? And how would you feel if it happened to you?
See Key to UB for further definitions.
How You Can Help
Can I really make a difference?
Yes, absolutely! Getting involved can help prevent sexual assault in a culture that too often inadvertently supports it. By doing something very simple (read below), you could actually be preventing a lot of damage in people’s lives.
How can I help in the prevention efforts?
- Be aware of language and speak up if someone is putting women down.
- Share information that you know on sexual assault prevention.
- Offer to drive your friend(s) home from a party.
- Accompany your female friends to parties.
- Remind your friends to hold their drink at all times. Make sure that they open and/or pour their own drinks.
- Sponsor programs on sexual assault awareness and prevention.
What can I do if I see something happening that can lead to trouble?
- Take one person aside and distract them .
- Distract the couple in order to diffuse the situation.
- Offer to call a cab so one person can leave.
- Knock on the door, or open the door, if you suspect a problem.
- Directly ask what is going on and is everything okay.
- Shout something to draw attention to the situation. For example, you can say ”Hey, what are you doing? Leave her alone!”
I feel uncomfortable doing these things.
For most of us it does feel uncomfortable, and it does take courage to speak up and intervene. But all it takes is one person at a time to help stop the violence. You can make a difference in someone’s life.
How to Protect Yourself Online
Do not share personal information in public spaces anywhere online, nor give it to strangers, including in e-mail or chat rooms. Do not use your real name or nickname as your screen name or user ID. Pick a name that is gender- and age-neutral. And do not post personal information as part of any user profiles.
We would prefer that you never meet with someone that you have met online, however if you do, you must be extremely cautious. If you choose to meet never give anyone your address, and do not have them pick you up. Meet in a public place and take along a friend.
Make sure that your ISP and Internet Relay Chat (IRC) network have an acceptable use policy that prohibits cyberstalking. And if your network fails to respond to your complaints, consider switching to a provider that is more responsive to user complaints.
If a situation online becomes hostile, log off or surf elsewhere. If a situation places you in fear, contact campus security or your local law enforcement agency. There is help and support available on campus and off campus.
Be Smart with Your Online Presence
Just because an online app or website asks for information about you does not mean you have to provide all of it. Before you “accept” the agreement, read it and understand what you are authorizing them to access about you.
Do you REALLY feel comfortable with the online world knowing –
- Your class schedule
- Your hometown or address
- Your phone number
- All of your email addresses/messenger names
- The names of your relatives
- Be smart when creating your password and NEVER share it.
- Create a special and unique password that includes numbers and symbols.
- Make sure the password does not include your name or numbers easily associated with you like your birth date.
- Change your password regularly.
Your Privacy Settings
- Take the time to review the privacy settings offered for any website or online community that you join.
- Make sure you understand what privacy settings you can control, what they mean and how to control them.
- The default setting for most privacy settings online is open and public—be careful!
Location, Location, Location
Many apps and website will ask for your location—but why is that and what is the risk with providing it? Listing your specific address can be risky—especially if it is viewable by anyone on the website. This can leave you open to identity theft, stalkers, unsolicited mailings, and more. Think about it before you post it!