Reducing the Risk of Being Accused of Sexual Misconduct
- Show your potential partner respect if you are in a position of initiating sexual contact.
- If a potential partner says “no,” accept it and don’t push. If you want a “yes,” ask for it, and don’t proceed without clear permission.
- Clearly communicate your intentions to your potential sexual partners, and give them a chance to share their intentions and/or boundaries with you.
- Respect personal boundaries. If you are unsure what’s OK in any interaction, ask.
- Avoid ambiguity. Don’t make assumptions about consent, about whether someone is attracted to you, how far you can go with that person, or if the individual is physically and mentally able to consent. If you have questions or are unclear, you don’t have consent.
- Don’t take advantage of the fact that someone may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, even if that person chose to become that way. Others’ loss of control does not put you in control.
- Be on the lookout for mixed messages. That should be a clear indication to stop and talk about what your potential partner wants or doesn’t want to happen. That person may be undecided about how far to go with you, or you may have misread a previous signal.
- Respect the timeline for sexual behaviors with which others are comfortable, and understand that they are entitled to change their minds.
- Recognize that even if you don’t think you are intimidating in any way, your potential partner may be intimidated by or fearful of you, perhaps because of your sex, physical size, or a position of power or authority you may hold.
- Do not assume that someone’s silence or passivity is an indication of consent. Pay attention to verbal and non-verbal signals to avoid misreading intentions.
- Understand that consent to one type of sexual behavior does not automatically grant consent to other types of sexual behaviors. If you are unsure, stop and ask.
- Understand that exerting power and control over another through sex is unacceptable conduct.
Tips like these tend to make victims feel blamed if a sexual assault occurs. It is never the victim’s fault, and these tips are offered in the hope that recognizing patterns can help everyone reduce the risk of victimization. That said, only a rapist or an empowered bystander can intervene to prevent a rape or assault. Eckerd College fully recognizes that only those who commit sexual misconduct are responsible for their actions.
- Make any limits/boundaries you may have known as early as possible.
- Clearly and firmly articulate consent or lack of consent.
- Remove yourself, if possible, from an aggressor’s physical presence.
- Reach out for help, either from someone who is physically nearby or by calling someone. People around you may be waiting for a signal that you need help.
- Take affirmative responsibility for your alcohol and/or drug consumption. Alcohol and drugs may increase your vulnerability to sexual victimization.
- Look out for your friends, and ask them to look out for you. Respect them, and ask them to respect you, but be willing to challenge each other about high-risk choices.