Risk Reduction Tips
Sexual assault or unwanted advances by a stranger, acquaintance or friend are never the fault of the person assaulted. That said, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from predatory behavior.
- Take sexual pressure seriously. Many sexual assaults begin with low-level sexual pressure. Although such pressure and disregard don’t always lead to assault, you deserve to have your boundaries respected, not pushed.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel threatened in the least, make a scene. If you feel you are being pressured, firmly say “no.” It may mean a few minutes of embarrassment, but it also may prevent assault or rape.
- Use the buddy system. By sticking with your friends at parties or the local bar, you can avoid the circumstances that sometimes lead to sexual assaults. Never leave your beverage unattended to prevent a predator from spiking it with an illegal substance. And remember that alcohol itself is involved in many sexual assaults.
- Be wary of extreme drunkenness. While drunkenness does not cause or excuse sexual misconduct, intoxicated people are more likely to disregard other people’s signals.
- Pay attention to your surroundings. Is the evening winding down and you’re left alone with just a few guys? Do men greatly outnumber the women at the party? These are situations best avoided. Don’t accept rides from people you don’t know or from people you don’t trust completely. You are much better off calling a cab, taking the bus or using a Missoula safe-ride option.
Avoid Committing Sexual Assault
Clearly understand what sexual assault is and carefully evaluate your own behaviors and assumptions.
- Hold out for enthusiasm. In general, it’s easy to tell if someone is enthusiastic about an encounter or not. Take any signs of reluctance or refusal — including nonverbal signs — very seriously. If the signs are ambiguous be sure to stop, and then check in by asking permission. Ask or wait for an enthusiastic “YES” before moving to the next level.
- You or your partner can stop what is happening at any moment, no matter how far things have gone. If your partner asks you to stop, respect this request every time.
- Sexual assault of any kind is a crime. This includes “taking things a little too far.” You can be arrested, tried and sent to prison.
- Assumptions are dangerous for you and your partner. Just because someone agrees to go home with you, it doesn’t mean he or she wants to have sex. If your partner consents to kissing or other intimate activities, that doesn’t mean he or she is consenting to all sexual activities.
- Past consent doesn’t necessarily mean “yes” every time. Even if someone has had sex with you before, if you force him or her to have sex again it’s rape.
- If you have sex with someone who is incapable of consenting it’s rape, whether the person is drugged, highly intoxicated or passed out.
- Don’t be pressured into participating in violent acts because the rest of the group is. Whether it’s violent hazing or outright gang rape, it can land you in prison. In fact, in such situations you should step in to protect the victim or remove yourself from the circumstance and call 911.