As students start getting ready to head back to their college campus for a new school year, some sobering facts still remain: 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college – and most of these assaults are committed by someone the victim knows.
While sexual assault can be deliberate – and is never acceptable – sometimes it stems from misunderstanding: Not all students are clear on what consent is. However, when students do fully understand what consent is, there is no room for misunderstanding and sexual assault is prevented. Help eliminate confusion by ensuring your students understand the six Cs of consent, listed below.
- Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions make it clear about the person’s willingness to engage in the sexual activity.
- Consent doesn’t need to be verbal, but verbally consenting can help clarify what your or your partner’s boundaries are.
Do not assume that a person flirting or kissing, or the way he or she is dressed, is an invitation for anything more.
- There must be no doubt about your partner’s willingness to participate in the sexual act. If you're not 100% sure whether you have consent or not, you need to ask. If you are still uncertain, do not move forward with any sexual activity.
- Silence or lack of resistance does not show consent.
- Discuss boundaries and potential sexual activity before anything happens to avoid misunderstandings, especially if you and your partner don’t know each other that well.
Pay attention to nonverbal cues that indicate whether or not your potential partner would like to engage in sexual activity.
- Consent needs to happen every time. If you are not sure whether your partner consents or not, stop and ask.
- Do not assume that you have permission to do a sexual act just because you’ve done it in the past.
Having sex with someone in the past doesn’t give you permission to have sex with him or her again in the future.
- Your partner needs to be in a mental, physical and emotional state that allows for consent.
- Someone who is under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other intoxicants may be incapacitated and therefore unable to consent.
For example, if someone is passed out or asleep from alcohol, drugs or fatigue, he or she cannot legally consent.
5. Can Be Changed
- Consent can be withdrawn. If a person changes his or her mind, he or she does not have to continue the sexual activity, and the sexual activity must stop.
If someone says “yes” but then decides “no,” the answer is “no.”
- You need to have consent before engaging in sexual activity. If you don’t have consent, it is rape.
Make sure your partner is of legal age.
If You Become a Victim
If you are sexually assaulted or find yourself in a dangerous scenario, follow the steps below:
Flee the scene.
If you suspect that someone is going to assault you, run away. Do this at the earliest possible moment, and scream for help if there are people around.
Find a safe place.
If someone has sexually assaulted you or you suspect that someone might, go somewhere safe (e.g., university police, your dorm room, a friend’s dorm room).
Call for help.
If you are concerned for your or another person’s safety, call 911 or university police as soon as possible. Also consider calling someone you trust – no matter where you are or what time it is.
Do not clean up.
To preserve the evidence, do not clean yourself or the location where the sexual assault occurred. Try to save anything that might contain the perpetrator’s DNA.
Seek medical attention.
Get a sexual assault forensic exam done as soon as possible to collect evidence of the crime and to make sure you are safe and protected.
Know that you are not to blame; sexual assault is not the victim’s fault.
For more information on the products available to purchase for your students and institutional officials, browse the QuickSeries® library of guides, including The Clery Act – Creating Safer Campuses, Campus Safety and Spot It. Stop It. Be an Active Bystander.