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Protecting Yourself

While there is no substitute for respect for the dignity of others and nothing in this section either excuses sexual misconduct or places blame for its occurrence on a complainant, there is good advice here on how students can protect themselves. Though each individual student is unique and incidents vary, the majority of victims are known to be female (an estimated one in four women will be sexually abused, and one in eight will be raped in their lifetime). However, sexual offenses cross the boundaries of gender, age, class, race, and sexual orientation.

Men as well as students identifying as other or no gender also experience sexual assault. Men are increasingly coming forward to seek assistance despite what for some may be complicated questions related to sexuality, shame, stigma related to masculinity, or reluctance to seek medical attention following an incident. In addition to the complex thoughts and feelings with which all survivors of sexual assault grapple, students identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer may have particular concerns, especially if an incident also involved intolerance, hate, or other violence.

All students should be aware of behaviors that constitute a sexual offense, steps to protect themselves, and procedures to report an incident. The following section provides prevention information to protect yourself, along with descriptions of gang, acquaintance, and substance-related rape.

  • Trust Your Instincts: Honor your gut reaction even if you don’t know why you feel unsafe. If you are uncomfortable in a situation, leave immediately and seek help.

  • Be Alert: Being aware of people, surroundings, and situations is the first step in preventing  a sexual offense. Become familiar with your surroundings. Know how to contact police or campus public safety, and learn locations of public telephones and campus emergency phones.

  • Think Ahead: Become familiar with safety and protection techniques, the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures, and the procedure for reporting these incidents.

  • Reduce Your Risk: Review the protection techniques in this brochure. For example:

    • Become familiar with the neighborhood.

    • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption and plan with friends to look out for one another.

    • The majority of sexual offenses are committed by someone the victim knows, so it is important to spend time with people you know well and trust.

    • Do what is right for you when it comes to sexual activity and let people know your limits as clearly as possible.

  • Know the Facts

    • Consent must be active and full. If any type of manipulation, threat, or force is used to obtain a “yes” to sexual activity, the “yes” does not qualify as consent.

    • Silence does not mean “yes.” If a person is afraid to say “no,” physically immobilized as a result of coercion, or incapacitated due to drug or alcohol consumption or a mental disability, they are unable to consent to sexual activity.

    • The respondents and complainants are intoxicated in the majority of reported sexual offenses on college campuses. Avoid excessive alcohol and other drug use. Alcohol and drug use can lead you to commit a sexual offense, blunt your alertness, and impair your ability to understand and respond to feelings and situations, making it more difficult to ask for and receive consent, or to resist peer pressure to engage in behaviors that put you at risk.

  • When You Are Going Out for the Evening

    • Tell someone you trust where and with whom you’re going and when you will return.

    • Go out with friends you trust and agree to look out for one another. Leave with a friend rather than alone or with someone you do not know very well.

    • Do not leave beverages unattended; always keep your drinks in sight.

    • Pay attention to your friends’ behavior. Discourage friends from leaving with someone they don’t know well—even if this person is an acquaintance.

    • Share this information with friends and talk about ways to look out for each other.

  • At Home and in the Residence Halls

    • Never open your door to strangers. If you are not expecting anyone, use the peephole (if one is available) and ask for identification and the reason for their visit. Do not be afraid to ask questions or to call police or the Department of Public Safety to report suspicious people.

    • Never let someone into your building unless you know that person lives there.

    • Do not prop open any doors to your building. This is an easy way for a person to gain entry without anyone noticing.

  • Walking

    • Constantly be aware of your surroundings—people, lighting, and situations.

    • Do not walk while wearing headphones or earbuds; it dulls your hearing and makes you less aware of what is happening around you.

    • Avoid walking alone at night. At Rose Hill, call Public Safety for the nearest van to off-campus locations or back to campus.

    • Walk close to the curb to avoid shrubs, dark doorways, and other places people can hide.

    • Do not take shortcuts through dark and isolated places.

    • Have your keys in your hand so that you do not spend time looking for them.

    • Blue light emergency phones are available at various locations on campus and are useful in calling for assistance.

  • Public Transportation

    • Wait for trains in the off-hours waiting areas designated at each station.

    • Do not ride in empty subway cars; ride in the conductor’s car.

    • Use station exits with the most activity.

    • Use only licensed yellow and green cabs or a reputable ride-sharing service

  • Driving

    • Keep your doors locked and windows rolled up while driving or parking your car.

    • If you feel threatened at a red light or stop sign, sound your horn and drive away.

    • Park your car in a place that is well lit at night.

    • Keep your car in good condition and filled with enough gas to make it to your destination.

    • Always know where you are going and how to get there.

    • Store valuables out of sight in your locked trunk.

Date/Acquaintance Rape and Gang/Group Rape

  • Date/acquaintance rape occurs when you are forced or manipulated into having sex against your will by someone you know, whether that person is your date, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a significant other, an acquaintance, a friend, a neighbor, a classmate, a co-worker, or a teammate. This is the most common form of sexual assault.

  • Gang/group rape is defined as a sexual offense by more than one perpetrator. Peer pressure to participate in the sexual offense is a key factor in gang/group rape. Be aware that use of alcohol and/or drugs contributes to instances of such rape.

Preventing Date/Acquaintance Rape and Gang/Group Rape

  • Communicate your expectations and limits, and demand that they be respected.

  • When a person says “no,” they are communicating their limits, not rejecting you as a person.

  • Do not assume that a person’s past behavior applies to the present. People have the right to make different choices about their sexual activity and level of desired intimacy at any time.

  • An absence of “no” does not equal “yes.” Silence could mean many things other than “yes.” It could mean fear of saying “no.” If someone is afraid to resist or fight back, they are unable to give consent.

  • You are responsible for your actions. Your attraction to someone does not give you the right to ignore that person’s expectations and limits.

  • Listen carefully. Take the time to hear what a person is saying. If you feel they are not being direct or if you are receiving mixed messages, ask the individual to be clearer.

  • Remember that date rape is a crime. It is never acceptable to use force in sexual situations, no matter what the circumstance. This applies whether the person is a date, a girlfriend or boyfriend, an acquaintance, a spouse, or a significant other.

  • Having sex with a person who is mentally or physically incapable of consenting is rape. If you have sex with a person who is drugged, intoxicated, passed out, incapable of saying “no,” or otherwise unaware of what is happening around them, you may be guilty of rape.

  • Avoid the use of drugs and alcohol. Drugs and alcohol can impair your ability to understand and respond appropriately to feelings and situations, and can increase your vulnerability by lowering your alertness and ability to react quickly.

  • Be especially careful in group situations. Be prepared to resist pressure to participate in exploitative, violent, or criminal acts, and clearly communicate your disapproval.

  • If you see someone in trouble or observe a friend trying to force or pressure someone into an unwanted situation, intervene. You may save the person from the trauma of a sexual assault.

  • If you feel that you are being pressured into an unwanted situation, communicate your limits. If your partner does not listen to you, leave immediately.

  • Say “no” to any unwanted sexual contact.

  • Even if you are in a long-term relationship, you have the right to refuse sexual activity with your partner. Prior consent to sexual contact does not compel consent.

  • If you are uncertain about what you want, ask your partner to respect your uncertainty.

  • If you agree to go to a place where intimacy may be expected (e.g., bedroom or secluded area), both parties should state their limitations and expectations clearly.

  • Do not be embarrassed to do what is right for you. Do not hesitate to raise your voice, stand up abruptly, scream or shout, or leave if you feel the situation warrants it.

  • Trust your instincts. Leave a situation immediately and go to a safe place if you think you are in danger.

  • Arrange to meet new friends in public places and, when possible, go meet them accompanied by good friends.

  • Tell someone you trust where and with whom you are going and when you will return.

  • Leave social events with your close friends instead of walking alone or with someone you don’t know very well.

  • Always have money for transportation in case you must leave a situation abruptly, and have your cell phone on and charged.

Substance-Related Rape

Substance-related rape has been occurring more frequently in recent years. When secretly slipped into a beverage, even a glass of lemonade, sedating substances can leave anyone vulnerable to sexual assault. You may not be able to see it, smell it, or taste it. You don’t have to be at a bar or club; it could happen in any social setting. If an individual appears extremely intoxicated after consuming a non-alcoholic beverage, or only a small amount of alcohol, they may have unknowingly ingested one of a number of substances.

Preventing Substance-Related Rape

Although the often-tasteless drugs are hard to detect, there are precautionary steps one can take to reduce the risk of falling prey to this criminal conduct. For example:

  • Do not leave beverages unattended; always keep your drinks in sight.

  • Do not take any beverages, including alcohol, from someone you do not know very well and trust.

  • At a bar or club, accept drinks only from the bartender or server.

  • At parties, do not accept open-container drinks from anyone.

  • Be alert to the behavior of friends. Anyone appearing disproportionately inebriated in relation to the amount they consumed may be in danger.

  • Share this information with friends and talk about ways to look out for one another when you are at parties and social events.

  • Anyone who believes that they have consumed a sedative-like substance (symptoms include low inhibition, confusion, impaired judgment, dizziness, extreme drowsiness, or other sudden and unexplained symptoms) should be driven to a hospital emergency room or should call 911 for an ambulance as soon as possible. Bodily fluids can be examined for traces of these substances within hours of ingesting. Therefore, it is important to seek medical assistance for a blood test as soon as possible. Try to keep a sample of the beverage for analysis. If you or someone you know believes they have consumed a sedative-like substance, please contact your resident assistant, resident director, or the Department of Public Safety as soon as possible so they can assist you.