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Sexual Assault Resources

Strategies to Keep Yourself and Your Friends Safe

what you can do to prevent sexual assaults

Certain contributing factors repeatedly surface in acquaintance rape situations: ineffective communication, the use of drugs and alcohol, and sex role stereotypes. Understanding some of these factors can help prevent sexual assaults.

If a person uses force, coercion, or threats to compel another individual to have sex against his or her will, that person has committed rape even if that individual:

  • had sex with him or her before;
  • thinks he or she has been teased and led on;
  • heard that some people say “no” but mean “yes;”
  • thinks it’s “acceptable” to use force to get your way.
Being turned down for sexual relations is not necessarily a personal rejection. A person who says “no” to sexual relations is expressing his or her unwillingness to participate in a specific act at a specific time.

Accept a person’s decision. “No” means no. STOP when the person says “no.” Don't assume:

  • that just because a person flirts or dresses in a manner you consider sexy that he or she wants to engage in sexual relations.
  • that previous permission for sexual relations means a person is under a continuing obligation to have sex with you.
  • that your date wants the same degree of intimacy that you do.
  • that spending money on a date entitles you to sex.

protecting yourself and your friends

  • Say “no” when you mean no. Communicate your limits clearly. Know what you are feeling, and express yourself clearly.
  • When someone says no, respect the “no.”
  • Be assertive. Be direct and firm with someone who is pressuring you sexually. If someone starts to offend you, respond promptly and firmly. Overly polite approaches might be misunderstood or ignored. If you are initiating the sexual activity make sure that consent is freely and willingly present.
  • Trust your intuition. If you feel you are being pressured into unwanted sexual relations, don’t hesitate to express your unwillingness, even if it might appear rude. Leave the situation as soon as possible.
  • If you feel a person is hesitant about having sexual relations with you, stop and make sure that consent is freely and willingly present before proceeding.
  • Think ahead about getting home. Be prepared when you are away from home to be able to leave the situation if you need to. Coordinate plans with friends and arrange transportation. Always carry cab fare.
  • Attend large parties with friends you can trust. Agree to look out for one another.
  • Avoid excessive use of alcohol and drugs. Alcohol and drugs interfere with clear thinking, effective communication, and your ability to respond in your own best interest.
  • Date Rape Drugs: GHB and Rohypnol (roofies) are colorless and odorless drugs that can be placed in drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), causing unconsciousness and amnesia. Do not accept drinks from strangers. Discard any drink you have left unattended.

active bystanders can make a difference

  • Educate yourself about sexual assault and sexual harassment.
  • Talk with friends and make a commitment to intervene when you see a situation in which another person is in danger of being sexually harassed or sexually assaulted.
  • Trust your intuition. If a situation does not look right, stop it. Seek assistance if necessary.
  • Interrupt a compromising situation. Think ahead about ways you would interrupt; including distraction, separating people, enlisting other people to intervene and make sure to bring the person of concern to a safe place.
  • Stop someone if you witness an attempt to force sex on another person. Seek assistance if necessary.
  • Help when you see that someone is intoxicated or drugged and bring them to a safe place. Remember someone who is intoxicated or drugged cannot give consent.
  • Confront friends or acquaintances who say exploitive or demeaning statements about others or brag about sexual experiences.

rape aggression defense training

The Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) System is an internationally recognized program that advocates realistic, employable self-defense tactics for men and women. RAD teaches resistance to violent encounters in the form of quick, deliberate, and precise defensive movements. The instructors will also teach how to increase your personal safety by increasing risk awareness, risk recognition, risk reduction, and risk avoidance.

The Emerson College RAD program is offered by the ECPD in conjunction with Berklee College of Music and is taught by certified instructors who are also members of their Public Safety and Police Departments. Each program is four sessions long, approximately four hours in duration over a 3-night period. The RAD program is offered each semester and is open to all Emerson College students, staff, and faculty. Class space is limited but is open to students, staff, and faculty at no cost.