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.
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 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
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 others down.
- Share information that you know on sexual assault prevention.
- Offer to drive your friend(s) home from a party.
- Accompany your 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 them 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 thef lkers, unsolicited mailings, and more. Think about it before you post it!
University of Bridgeport believes that each student is responsible for reaching their goals as part of a student development philosophy. Through growth in the academic, personal, community, cultural, career, and personal well-being areas, students will develop into holistically healthy, independent individuals who are compassionate and thoughtful members of society.
Educational programming and events offered throughout the academic year includes, but is not limited to:
- Haven – Understanding Sexual Assault online training
- Bystander education workshops
- Take Back the Night March
- Domestic Violence Vigil
- Sexual Assault Awareness Walk
- Education and training for student clubs, organizations, and Greek Life
- Education and training for student-athletes
- “Operation Jungle Red” program focusing on the socialization of men
- Educational programs for international students
- Where do we stand? workshop
As a University of Bridgeport student, it is also your responsibility to be knowledgeable about university policies and procedures and the Code of Community Standards. More information about these policies, and your rights and responsibilities, is available by accessing the Key to UB Student Handbook.
It’s likely that you never thought sexual violence could happen to you, probably because we are socialized to see sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking as crimes against women, not against men. Sexual violence is devastating to all victims, regardless of gender, and many reactions are shared by both male and female victims. You may feel rage, shame, guilt, powerlessness, helplessness, concern regarding your safety, and/or symptoms of physical illness.
However, there are special issues that may be different for you such as doubts about your sexuality or masculinity or reluctance to be examined for medical procedures. You may hesitate to report the sexual assault or act of sexual violence to law enforcement for fear of ridicule or fear that they won’t believe you. The same feelings apply to telling other people you know and to finding appropriate resources and support. This is true even if you experienced the incident when you were very young and only now are realizing you need help. You need to know that strong or weak; outgoing or withdrawn; gay, straight, or bisexual; old or young; whatever your physical appearance – you have done nothing that justifies this violence against you. At no point and under no circumstance does anyone have the right to violate or control another person. Sexually violent crimes are often embedded in issues of violence and power, not of lust or passion.
You may want to:
- Seek special support
- Call a crisis line anonymously and request a male counselor
- Request an older or male nurse to assist in treatment at the hospital
- Find a support group of male survivors to help you in your healing process
As a man, many factors or fears may influence your decision to report or not report to law enforcement. The advantages of reporting include:
- The assailant may be caught and brought to trial
- Your report may help protect others
- Collection of medical evidence will be paid for by the State’s Attorney’s Office
- You are eligible to apply for Victims of Violent Crimes Compensation
There are some disadvantages as well:
- You may be treated in an insensitive manner
- You may not be believed
- Prosecution is often unsuccessful
If you are gay or bisexual, you may feel that somehow you “brought this on” yourself. You may fear disclosure of your sexual orientation. You may fear for your safety or feel “survivor’s guilt” if you survived a hate crime. And you may know your assailant; she or he could be an acquaintance, a friend, a colleague, a date, a partner.
Feeling responsible is a normal reaction to sexual violence. However, sexual violence is never the responsibility of the survivor; you did nothing to deserve this. We encourage you to come forward and obtain the resources and support that you need.
Men Can Stop Rape seeks to mobilize men to use their strength for creating cultures free from violence, especially men’s violence against women. In 1997, the founders of Men Can Stop Rape pioneered a different way of addressing the epidemic of violence against women. Though the majority of violent acts against women are committed by men, the vast majority of prevention efforts are risk-reduction and self-defense tactics directed at women. The founders wanted to shift the responsibility of deterring harm away from women by promoting healthy, nonviolent masculinity. Their vision offered a plan for prevention that outlines positive, proactive solutions to engaging men as allies, inspiring them to feel motivated, and ending men’s violence against women.
White Ribbon is the world’s largest movement of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls, and promote gender equity, healthy relationships, and a new vision of masculinity. Starting in 1991, we asked men to wear white ribbons as a pledge to never commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women and girls. Since then the White Ribbon Campaign has spread to over 60 countries around the world. They work to examine the root causes of gender-based violence and create a cultural shift that helps bring us to a future without violence. Their vision is for a masculinity that embodies the best qualities of being human. They believe that men are part of the solution and part of a future that is safe and equitable for all people. Through education, awareness-raising, outreach, technical assistance, capacity building, partnerships, and creative campaigns, White Ribbon is helping create tools, strategies, and models that challenge negative, outdated concepts of manhood and inspire men to understand and embrace the incredible potential they have to be a part of positive change.