Aerial photograph of the Immaculate Conception Chapel

How can we prevent sexual assault?

Growing up, we often hear prevention tips for sexual assault.  We learn to watch our drinks, never walk alone, always carry your keys in your hand, and use the buddy system.  We are filled with messages about how we are supposed to protect ourselves from being a victim, but we never hear about ways that we can avoid being a perpetrator.  So check out these suggestions for how not to be a victim OR a perpetrator:

Avoid being a victim:

  • Think about your limits and your values ahead of time, so that if you feel that someone is crossing a line for you, you know that it is time to tell them to back off.
  • Learn how to communicate your values so that you know how to say no when you want to.  This is a skill and it takes practice!
  • Trust your gut.  If you are uncomfortable, there is probably a reason.
  • Stay with your people!  Don't wander off alone late at night.  Your people can help protect you.
  • If you just met someone, hang out in public for a while before looking for a more intimate location.  Get to know them!  There's no hurry.
  • Sometimes putting distance between you and another person is the best way to say no.  If you are saying the word "no," but they aren't listening, don't be afraid to push them away or shout.  That will send a much stronger message than simply saying "no."
  • Always have a back up plan for how to get home, just in case things don't go the way you expect.
  • Do not accept drinks or medication from anyone.  Many medications (such as Benadryl) can mix with alcohol and can begin to have the effect of a date rape drug.


Avoid being a perpetrator:

  • Communicate with your partner in advance so that you know where their boundaries and expectations lay.
  • Respect your partner's limits when he/she says "no."
  • Consider your values ahead of time, and make sure that your behaviors are always aligning with your values.
  • Don't physically overpower someone just because you are capable.
  • Do not set unrealistic expectations.  For example, just because you pay for dinner doesn't mean that you deserve anything in return.
  • Be careful with alcohol and other drugs!  These can cloud your judgment and make it difficult to pick up on a "no" from your partner.
  • Don't encourage your date to drink in excess or provide them with other drugs that will cloud their judgment.  If they are under the influence of any substance, they are legally incapable of giving consent.
  • Never pressure someone into a sexual behavior that they are not comfortable with.

Top

What do I do if I have been assaulted?

If you feel you may have been sexually assaulted, this can be a really confusing time.  You have choices in how you decide to respond.  Here is what we would recommend:

  • Go to a safe place.  This might be your residence hall, a friend's room, or the office of a trusted faculty or staff member.
  • Do not clean up.  This means do not shower, douche, change clothes (or at the very least, change clothes and put what you were wearing in a paper bag), eat, chew gum, brush your teeth, or brush your hair.  This could destroy important evidence.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible to check for injuries, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections.  If you have an exam within 96 hours of the assault, you can have a forensic exam performed, in which evidence can be collected for you to file charges, if you would like.  Contact the UD Health Center or Miami Valley Hospital for more information.
  • If you suspect you may have been drugged, alert the medical professionals.  A urine test can be conducted within 72 hours to detect for medications.
  • Write down everything you can remember in as much detail as possible.  This will be helpful if you decide to file charges.
  • Talk to a professional.  UD's Counseling Center and/or Campus Ministry are free, confidential resources for you, where you can get help throughout the recovery process.
  • If you are interested in reporting, contact Title IX Coordinator Lori Shaw (937-229-3794) or Dean of Students Chris Schramm (937-229-1212) for more information.

Top

How do I help my friend that has been assaulted?

It can be very difficult to help a friend through recovery of a sexual assault.  What do you say?  What do you do?  How can you help?  Here are a few tips for how to best support your friend through his or her recovery process:

  • Tell your friend that you believe them.
  • Listen to what they want to tell you.  Do not ask specific details about the assault - they will tell you if and when they want to. 
  • Tell your friend it was not their fault.  Not matter what the other circumstances may have been (how much they drank, what they were wearing, etc), it was not his or her fault that the assault occurred.
  • Affirm how he or she feels.  Processing an assault is very overwhelming and everyone processes it differently.  There is no "wrong" way to think or feel.
  • As a friend, this can be a really difficult thing to understand.  Having said that, process your own feelings elsewhere.  Your friend is going through a lot, and can't support you through your process, too.  But make sure you find the support that you need in order to cope with your own process.
  • Respect your friend's privacy.  If you would like a safe space to talk about what you are feeling, consider reaching out to the Counseling Center or Campus Ministry.  Make sure you take care of yourself.
  • Encourage your friend to seek professional support.
  • Provide options for your friend and let them decide what to do.  Supporting them in having control of the situation is the best thing you can do - do not make decisions for them.  Once they have made a decision, respect it.
  • Be patient and calm with their process.  This is not something that will be fixed overnight.
  • Be dependable and available when your friend needs you. 

 


Top

What are the typical reactions to sexual assault?

There are no typical reactions to sexual assault.  Everyone has a different experience as they heal and any reaction is perfectly normal.  Typical reactions can be both physical (pain, nausea, tension, nightmares) or emotional (anxiety, fear, grief, indecision, shame, etc).  If you feel as though your or a friend's reaction has become unsafe (such as self harm, harming others, etc), please call the University of Dayton Counseling Center at 937-229-3141.

Top

I think I want to do some more reading. Any suggestions?

There are some great resources available for you!  Check these out:

Books:

The Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis

The Sexual Healing Journey: A guide for survivors of sexual abuse by Wendy Maltz

Websites:

www.1in6.org
www.mencanstoprape.org
www.rainn.org
www.womenslaw.org
www.pandys.org
www.nsvrc.org

Did we miss some?  E-mail us your suggestions and we will add them to the list! 

Top

How do I know if my relationship is unhealthy?

Just like you have check ups with a doctor to make sure you are physically healthy, checking in with your romantic relationship occasionally can be just as helpful.  It is important to pay attention to warning signs and to ensure that you and your partner are treating one another with the respect and care that you both deserve. 

SPVE Chart


This chart is taken directly from the Office of Population Affairs site through the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.  For more information, please visit their site


Top

What are rape myths?

Rape myths are beliefs that we have grown up believing because of messages we have received from our peers, the media, and American society.  Here are just a few examples.

MYTH

REALITY

If a man pays for a date, his date owes him sex.

No matter how expensive a date, sex is never a reasonable expectation in response.  Consider brainstorming for cheap (yet fun) date options -or split the check!

Women are usually lying when they say they were sexually assaulted.

Only 2-8% of sexual violence reports are found to be false, meaning that your assumption should always be that a survivor is telling the truth.  The process of reporting can be very overwhelming - it's not worth reporting just to get revenge.

Usually sexual assaults occur between strangers.

The majority of sexual assaults occur between people that know one another.  At the University of Dayton, we often assume that everyone we encounter on campus is safe.  This creates a false sense of security on campus that can be dangerous. 

If a woman wears a short skirt, she deserves what she gets.

No one asks to be sexually assaulted.  Every one always has a right to say no and walk away from a situation, regardless of their attire, previous experiences, or previous decisions.

Stalking only happens on TV.  That doesn't happen here at UD.

Research shows that about 10% of women report being stalked during their college years.  If you feel as though you are being repeatedly followed, watched, called, texted, or communicated with in a way that is obsessive or makes you concerned for your safety, consider reaching out to a UD staff or faculty member for guidance.

When a person says "no," they really just mean "try harder."

If your partner says "no," stop immediately and have a conversation.  "No" does not have to signify the complete end to a conversation - in fact, it is the opposite.  "No" can be the beginning of a conversation that will end in ensuring that both people are happy with the relationship.

It is only sexual assault if the victim says the word "no" and the other person keeps going.  If the person never says the word "no," it's not assault.

Consent is not the presence of a "no," it is the absence of a "yes."  If you do not have a clear yes for the behaviors that are occurring, it is imperative that you stop immediately.  Think of it this way - why would you want to be with someone who isn't 100% into what's happening?

If both people are drunk, it was just a hook up.  It wasn't assault.

Let's define "drunk" before we can answer this question.  If you have reached the point where you would not get behind the wheel of a car because you have had too much to drink, it may not be the best idea to engage in any sexual experiences.  Your body is much more important than a car - so if you wouldn't trust yourself with a vehicle, should you trust yourself with your body?  Having said this, if all parties involved are consenting to the sexual experience, then it is not sexual assault.  However, if one person is incapacitated, in which they are unaware, ill, blacked out, unconscious, unable to make rational/reasonable decisions, and/or otherwise physically or mentally helpless to give effective consent, then the other individual(s) is taking advantage of the incapacitated person and it is sexual violence.

Men can't control their sexual urges and can't stop once they reach a certain point.

Men and women have equal control over their sexual urges, so men can stop sexual behavior just as easily as women can.  During the sexual response cycle, there are natural physiological progressions that every person's body will naturally undergo and we have the ability to control our actions and how we respond to our own sexual arousal.  In other words, just because you are turned on, does not mean that you need to take advantage of another person in order to satisfy your needs in that moment.

Rapists are crazy or psychotic.

Actually, most individuals who commit sexual violence are everyday people that made a bad decision.  There are no major psychological differences between individuals who commit sexual violence versus those who do not.  This is why it is so important for all of us to be aware of our surroundings and the consent of those we are with - we do not want to find ourselves in this type of situation.


Top

What is the "Red Zone"?

The "Red Zone" refers to the first few weeks of the first year of college, when students are at an increased risk of assault than any other time in their college career.  The transition from the safety of home to a new campus, where students explore and live in a less-restrictive lifestyle can lead to risky behavior and increased risk for assault.

Another dangerous time is the first few weeks after transitioning from living in a residence hall to living off campus or in the student neighborhoods.  This again increases a student's freedom and can create dangerous situations. 

During these risky times, please take extra precautions to protect yourself.  Watch out for yourself and your friends, stay aware, and know that others are vulnerable, so do not take advantage of easy situations.

This information is cited from:

Ostrander, C., & Schwartz, J. (1994). Crime at college: The student guide to personal safety. Ithaca, NY: New Strategist Publications.


Top

But I'm a guy. Could I really have been assaulted?

Sexual abuse can happen to anyone.  While it may feel confusing to imagine sexual abuse having happened to you, there are many others that have experienced similar things.  We recommend visiting sites like www.1in6.org to learn more information.


Top

I think I want to report an assault. What does that process look like?

The University of Dayton takes every reported assault seriously.  We want to help you make the reporting process as simple as possible.  To begin the process, contact Christine Schramm, Dean of Students, or Lori Shaw, Title IX Coordinator.  You can also view the policy and procedures.


Top

I have other questions. Who should I contact?

On this page, we have answered some of the most common questions.  If you have others that have not been answered, contact Kristen Altenau, the Sexual Violence Prevention Education Coordinator, at 937-229-1217 or kaltenau1@udayton.edu.

Top