One step to creating a safer environment is for both men and women to begin clearly and openly communicating about what they want and do not want sexually. Clear and open communication is crucial in any sexual situation.
- Examine your needs and desires before you get into a sexual situation.
- Clearly tell your partner what you want. If there are limits that you want to maintain, state what they are and stick to them.
- Clearly ask your partner what he/she wants.
- Listen to each other.
- Be aware of non-verbal cues, but do not rely on them. If you are not sure, ask.
- Challenge the myths and stereotypes. Challenge your friends who minimize rape or don't understand it, who accept definitions of sex and gender roles that include forcing someone to have sex or getting them too drunk to say "no". Talk with friends and give one another the opportunity to be assertive, respectful, honest and caring.
- Think about your sexual desires and limits and how you respond to social pressures. How do alcohol and/or drugs affect your sexual-decision making? How do you learn someone else's desires and limits? How do you express your own? Knowing these things before going on a date can help prevent any misunderstandings later.
- Communicate clearly and be assertive. Saying "yes" or "no" may be difficult, but it is important. Passive or polite approaches can be misunderstood or ignored. Be direct and firm with someone who is pressuring you. Tell your partner what you want ---or don't want---and stick with your decision.
- If you feel uncomfortable during a conversation, perhaps as a result of hearing dirty jokes or derogatory remarks, stop the conversation. If you feel uncomfortable because of unwanted physical contact, such as rubbing your back or stroking your hair without your permission complain and stop it.
- If you are uncertain about what you want, stop and talk about it. It is okay to be unsure, and perhaps it means you want to wait. Remember that saying "no" now does not mean that you will never want to have sex with this person and saying "yes" doesn't mean you can't change your mind.
- Trust your instincts. Even if you can't explain why you feel a certain way, you have the right to trust your feelings and have them respected.
- Listen carefully to what the other person is saying and pay attention to what is happening around you. Are you getting mixed messages? If so, stop. Explain why you are confused. Do you understand the other person? If not, ask rather than assume. Talk together about what would be most enjoyable for each of you. Always watch for nonverbal clues.
- Remember that effective and assertive communication may not always work. Sometimes people just don't listen. However, no one ever deserves to be raped!
*Adopted in part from "Acquaintance Rape", a publication of the American College Health Association.
- Avoid secluded places.
- Tell someone where you are going and have a way to get home.
- Know your limits and observe them. Alcohol and drugs impair everyone's perception and judgment.
- Watch your drink carefully; do not leave your drink unattended or accept one from someone you do not know well or trust.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel something is wrong, do not ignore your feelings.
- Assert yourself. If you do not like something that your partner is doing, tell them clearly and firmly to stop.
- Use a buddy system when you go to parties. Before you go to the party, agree with your friends when you are going to leave, or under what circumstances you will leave each other.
- Agree upon signals to give your friends that will indicate needing and "escape" or a way out if a situation becomes uncomfortable. Don't be afraid to intervene if you think your friend is in a bad situation.
Developing Safe Habits
- Learn the locations of the blue-light phones and access phones on campus (there is a map on the general safety booklet). Blue-light phones are directly connected to the dispatchers.
- Walk with others after dark. Avoid shortcuts and wooded areas; stay on lighted walkways. Vary your route.
- Let your friends know the route you are taking and when to expect you. Call ahead.
- Notice cars that pull beside you or pass you more than once.
- Pay attention to footsteps and voices.
- If you are followed, stay in a lighted area and seek safety in a public building where there are other people. If you are on campus, find a phone.
At Home or in Residence Halls:
- Have you keys or One Card in your hand well before you get to your destination. If you feel you are being watched, get help. Go to a neighbor's door, a blue-light phone, an access phone, or the Campus Police office.
- Close and lock the door immediately when entering a residence hall. Always keep room doors locked, especially when you are sleeping, and do not prop open outside doors.
- Be sensible with your keys and access card---don't leave them in an outside hiding place. Report all lost or stolen College keys and access cards as soon as possible.
- Be careful about letting acquaintances sleep in your room or home.
- Vouch for visitors to a residence hall only if you know them. Report unauthorized persons or suspicious behavior to the head resident, hall staff, or the Campus Police Department immediately.
- Know who is at the door before opening it. Ask for identification from anyone you don't know or feel uncomfortable about. If a stranger requests to use your telephone to call for help, offer to place the call for him or her rather than to invite the stranger into your home or room. If you live alone off campus, or with other women, use only your first initials on your mailbox and in telephone directories.
- Use caution over the phone. Never reveal your phone number or name to a wrong number caller. Don't reveal to a caller that you are alone. Be wary of telephone surveys, especially ones that ask for personal information. If you don't know who the person is, hang up. Warn roommates not to give out personal information over the phone.
- Be alert in Laundromats and laundry rooms. Try not to go alone.
- Report burned-out lights and broken locks, doors, and windows to Facilities Management immediately.
- Know which neighbors you could call in an emergency.
- Take safety and security regulations seriously.
- Have your keys ready in your hand as you approach the car.
- Have your doors locked at all times, and your windows up when possible.
- Check your back seat before you get into your car.
- Park in a well-lit area.
- Don't go to your car alone at night if you can avoid it.
- Always make sure you have enough gas, and your car is in good repair, before you leave.
- Never pick up hitchhikers.
- Consider carrying a cellular phone.
- If you suspect you are being followed, drive into a busy, well-lit establishment and call a law enforcement agency. If you know the location of the local police department, drive there and ask for help.
- Signal for help by raising the hood of your car, if you have car trouble. Remain in your car with the doors locked until help arrives. Make sure the assistance is legitimate. If another motorist offers help, stay in your car and ask the motorist to call the police or auto club.
- Don't stop if you see a disabled vehicle on the highway, but report it and send help for the driver.