Preventing Sexual Assault - What You Can Do
General Safety Tips for Everyone
- Be aware of your surroundings. Knowing where you are and who is around you may help you to find a way to get out of a bad situation.
- Trust your instincts. If a situation or location feels unsafe or uncomfortable, do what you can to get out of it - your insticnts are most likely right.
- Try to make sure your cell phone is with you and charged at all times.
- Be cautious when using the internet. Never give out private information about yourself, your family, or your roommates (phone number, where you live, etc.) to people you don't know or post that type of information on social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
- Memorize the phone number of a few close friends in case your phone dies or gets lost and you have to use someone else's.
- Consider downloading an app like Circle of 6 to make reaching out for help easier and more discreet.
Residence Hall Safety
- Lock your door when you go to sleep and when you are not in the room.
- Keep your window locked (especially if it is easy to enter from the ground).
- If people constantly prop open the main res hall door, talk to an RA or RD about it.
- Respect other people's boundaries in residence halls. If someone asks you to leave their room or floor, you need to go. An invitation to come in is not an open invitation to stay or to do whatever you want.
- Just becuase someone comes to your room or invites you to their room, it does not mean they want to hook up with you. Be clear about your intention and make sure to get consent before any sexual action takes place.
Walking Around Campus
- Be familiar with where emergency phones are installed on the campus
- Walking back from the library or a friend's residence hall very late at night is sometimes unavoidable, so try to walk with a friend. If walking feels unsafe, you can call Public Safety for an escort anytime (925-631-4282).
- If you're walking on campus after dark, be aware that other people may be scared of you even if you don't get why. Try not to follow too closely and be sure keep some distance between yourself and any one else who may be walking alone.
In Social Situations and at Parties
- When you go to a party, go with a group of friends. Arrive together, check in with each other and leave together.
- If you choose to drink, try to practice safe drinking. Set a limit before you start drinking and do your best to stick to it.
- Watch your drink and try to pour your own drink so that you know what is in it. Avoid punch bowls and mixed drinks that may have much more alcohol in them than you might think.
- Don't be afraid to let a friend know if someone is making you uncomfortable or if you are worried about your or another friend's safety.
- Never, ever pressure someone to drink more alcohol than they want to. Pressuring someone to drink or giving someone a drink that contains more alcohol than they think are unacceptable behaviors and are not tolerated in our community.
- If you see something that seems wrong like a person pressuring someone to drink, someone touching another person in a way that person isn't comfortable with, a drunk person being led into a bedroom - anything like that - SPEAK UP. You have the power to prevent sexual assault just by intervening.
- Remember that if someone has been drinking alcohol or using a drug, they're not legally able to give consent. Having sex with someone who is intoxicated is sexual assault.
- Using alcohol to get someone to do something they wouldn't do when sober is not ok and is equivalent to using alcohol as a weapon.
If Someone is Pressuring You
- Don't feel obligated to do anything you don't want to. "I don't want to" is always a good enough reason. Do what feels right to you and what you are comfortable with.
- Have a code word with your friends 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 can then come to get you or make up an excuse for you to leave.
- Know your personal boundaries and do your best to communicate them. You have the right to say no and to change your mind at any point!
- Don't assume your partner can read your mind. Tell the person you are with how far you want to go, what you want and don't want to do, and when you want to stop.
- Don't be afraid to speak up. If you are being pressured or you start to feel uncomfortable, let the other person know how you feel, even if it's awkward or hurts the other person's feelings. You are just as important as they are and you deserve to be respected.
Make sure you're getting consent!
- Consent is a sober, verbal, enthusiastic yes that is freely given by someone who is fully conscious and acting out of their own free will. Every person has the right to give consent or refuse consent to any sexual act.
- Listen carefully to the person you're with. If your partner says no to sexual contact or her/his body language tells you that she/he is unwilling or unsure, respect your partner's limits and STOP.
- Silence does not equal consent. If your partner is silent, check in with them and make sure they give you a verbal yes (that was freely given without pressure) before you contine.
- Consent needs to be given for each act. Just because your partner said yes to making out doesn't mean they're saying yes to sex.
- It is never ok to pressure someone into doing something sexual that they don't want to do. If your partner is not enthusasically consenting, you need to stop. If you don't, it is sexual assault.
- Don't assume you know what another person wants. Just because a person chooses to drink, wears sexy clothing, agrees to be alone with you, or consents to kissing or other sexual touching DOES NOT mean that they are willing to have sex. Always ask for consent and make sure your partner has given a clear, verbal yes before you continue.
Remember, if you or a friend experiences sexual assault, it is not your fault (no matter what the circumstances) and there is help! Contact the Campus Assault Resources and Empowerment (CARE) Line 24/7 at (925)878-9207 for anonymous support.
For more safety tips and information about sexual assault, please check out the Rape Absue and Incest National Network.
For resources and information specific to Saint Mary's, please check out http://www.stmarys-ca.edu/student-life/womens-resource-center/sexual-ass....