Protecting Yourself

Sexual assaults are rarely violent attacks by strangers in dark places.  Most involve acquaintances and occur without violence.  On college campuses, these often happen late at night after excessive consumption of alcohol.  Those involved may have hazy memories of what happened and whether consent was given.

To protect yourself from committing or experiencing sexual assault, consider the following precautions:

One and Done:  Stop after one drink (two at most).  Alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.  Keep an eye on your drink at all times.

Buddy System:  Make a deal to look out for each other.  If one of you starts crossing the line or disappears from view, the other can intervene.

Leave the Party Early:  Most trouble starts in the wee hours, after the crowd has gone home.  Leave the party before trouble starts.  Wake up rested without regrets.

Deny Privacy:  Avoid being alone with someone who makes you uncomfortable.  Don't let anyone follow you into a private room or bathroom.  Stay around others in a public space.

Ask If It's Okay:  Ask your partner:  May I..?  Do you want to...?  Are you okay with...?  If you're getting mixed signals, stop and ask again.  If you want to move from touching to intercourse, make sure your partner is ready and willing (and use protection!).

Be Clear About What You Want (And Don't Want):  Say what you want or don't want, or make it clear by what you do.  If you're hesitant or unsure, say I'm not ready to....  Don't leave your partner guessing.

Assert Yourself:  If you don't want to do something, say so (and then make sure you don't do it!).  Giving in partway keeps the encounter going.

Repeat Yourself:  Expect your partner to ask or try a second time to see if you really mean it.  Repeat yourself to make the message clear.

Get Help If You Need It:  If something happens that worries you, seek help.  You won't be sanctioned for violating the alcohol policy if you seek help for sexual assault; you'll be helped.

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