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What is Consent?

So what actually is consent? The definition of effective consent used at the University of Dayton is: “effective consent is granted when a person freely, actively and knowingly agrees at the time to participate in a particular sexual act with a particular person.”. This means that both people involved in the interaction need to give a clear, verbal, enthusiastic yes. The lack of a no does not mean yes, only a verbal yes means that consent has been given.

University of Dayton Nondiscrimination Resource Center

So when do you need to ask for consent? It is absolutely essential to ask for consent every step of the interaction and every time it happens. This is true even if you have interacted sexually with someone before, every new interaction is a new situation where consent needs to be given. Likewise, there needs to be consent for each step of the interaction. If you are making out with someone on your bed, that does not mean you have their consent to take the next step. Make sure you are checking in with your partner consistently to make sure they are still comfortable. 

Listed below are some of the common objections voiced by those who do not want to ask for effective consent, followed by the ways in which you can combat these objections in yourself or others.

“But I don’t need to ask, I can just tell”

-       While body language can be a good indicator of enjoyment and something to pay attention to, it cannot replace verbal consent.  If you can’t read your partner’s mind there is no way to tell if they are consenting unless they tell you. It is easy to misread body language or mistake a lack of reaction for a “yes” when in reality an individual might be too scared, embarrassed, or shocked to vocalize their discomfort. Tonic Immobility causes paralysis and can affect people experiencing sexual assault, making it impossible for them to say no or push their partner away. If you do not have a clear yes for the behaviors that are occurring, it is imperative that you stop immediately.

“We hooked up last week, why would I need to ask again?”

-       Just because you have sex with someone once doesn’t mean you can now do it whenever you want without asking. Consent needs to be given during every new sexual encounter, regardless of how many times it’s been given before. If your friend let you borrow their car last weekend would you assume that means that you can borrow it anytime you want without asking? No, you wouldn’t. So what makes asking for consent for sex any different?

“But it’s awkward to ask”

-       Asking for consent doesn’t have to be awkward. If you are engaging in a physical, intimate interaction with another person you need to be honest with one another and communicate. If you can't ask them for something as simple as their consent to what you're engaging in with them, then why are either of you even there? Check out the links to videos below to learn about ways to be more comfortable asking for consent.

“But what if they say no?”

-       Then stop. If you don’t want to ask for consent because you’re afraid of getting a “no,” then you’re saying you’re ok with sexually assaulting someone. Ignorance is not bliss in this situation. If you choose to have sex with someone without asking for their consent because you think they might not give it to you, then you are choosing to assault that person.

Consent is necessary to make sure that everyone involved in a sexual encounter feels safe and comfortable. Think about it this way: don’t you want to make sure that whoever you’re with actually wants to be there as much as you do?

Check out these videos for more (entertaining) information about consent. 

The Tea Video

Consent 101

What Happened in Steubenville?

The Neurobiology of Sexual Assault

How can I practice Risk Reduction and Prevention?

In our society, most people grow up learning prevention tips to help them avoid sexual assault. Women, in particular, are taught to watch their drinks, never walk alone, always carry their keys in their hand, and use the buddy system. Society is filled with messages about how people should protect themselves from being a victim of sexual violence, but people rarely hear about ways that we can avoid being a perpetrator. So check out these suggestions for prevention and risk reduction so you can learn how to keep yourself and your partners safe. 

Prevention:

  • Communicate with your partner in advance so that you know what their boundaries and expectations are.
  • Respect your partner's limits when he/she says "no."
  • Consider your limits ahead of time and before the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Make sure that your behaviors are always aligning with you and your partner's limits.
  • Don't physically overpower someone just because you are capable of it.
  • Do not set unrealistic expectations.  For example, just because you pay for dinner doesn't mean that you deserve sexual favors 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. You don't want to wake up the next morning and realize that you have assaulted someone while you were drunk.
  • Don't encourage your date to drink in excess or provide them with other drugs that will cloud their judgment.  If they are incapacitated, they are legally incapable of giving consent. (University of Dayton Nondiscrimination Resource Center.)
  • Never pressure someone into a sexual behavior that they are not comfortable with.
  • Be aware of what's going on around you. If you see a situation that looks problematic, do something about it.

Risk Reduction:

***Disclaimer: Regardless of how many risk reduction strategies you choose or do not choose to use, a survivor is never, ever responsible for their assault. There is nothing any person can do, say, or wear that makes them deserving of sexual assault. 

  • Think about your limits ahead of time and before the influence of alcohol or other drugs, so that if you feel that someone is crossing a line you've drawn, you know that it is time to tell them to back off.
  • Learn how to communicate your limits 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." In some instances, Tonic Immobility may occur and the person experiencing the assault may not be able to move or react in any way. If this happens, it is not your fault and it does not mean you consented.
  • 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. Read all instructions and warning labels on prescription drugs you may be taking so you do not accidentally ingest a dangerous combination.
  • You never owe anyone anything. You have every right to say no at any time, even if someone bought you dinner or drinks, and even if you’ve already begun engaging in sexual activity with them. It is never too late to say no. 

 

What is Victim Blaming?

 Victim blaming occurs when the victim of a crime is blamed for having that crime committed on them. Victim blaming rarely happens to the victims of other crimes such as theft, but it happens all too often to the survivors of sexual assault. Think about it, if someone had their apartment broken into and robbed, would you say this to them? “Well what were you thinking! You shouldn’t have left town, you know that’s very tempting to robbers, you were basically asking for it.” Most people would not respond in that way a victim of a robbery.

So if you wouldn’t say that to someone who had their apartment robbed, why are some people so comfortable saying things like that to the survivors of sexual assault? Victim blaming occurs often and everywhere. We hear it in the media, from authority figures, from our peers and friends…eventually people don’t even notice it because it’s so embedded in our culture. This can be horribly traumatic and degrading for a survivor of power based personal violence to endure.

So what does it look like? Victim blaming can look different for male and female victims of assault. Here are some examples:

A female survivor might hear: “What were you wearing?” “Why did you leave your friends and go off on your own?” “Did you go to his/her apartment alone?... What did you expect to happen?” “Did you scream? Or fight back?” “Are you sure you didn’t want it?” “I thought you liked him/her?” “Well you were pretty drunk” “Didn’t you hook up with him/her last week?” “Maybe it was a misunderstanding, I think you’re being dramatic”.

These questions are meant to imply that by engaging in sexual activity or making a “poor decisions” (such as accompanying someone home alone or wearing a revealing outfit) the survivor was somehow deserving of this assault because “she was asking for it”. Allegations like this are harmful to the survivor and completely false. There is nothing anyone one can do, say, or wear that would "cause" sexual assault or make them responsible for being assaulted.

A male survivor might hear: “What are you talking about? Guys can’t be raped” “What does she weigh, like 90 pounds? You couldn’t fight her off?” “Didn’t you want it?” “Dude high five! You got laid!” “You had sex with a guy? What are you, gay?”

These questions are often meant to 1) invalidate the survivor’s feelings due to the assumption that men should want sex all the time and therefore cannot be assaulted or 2) accuse the survivor of not being masculine for failing to defend themselves against a woman or being gay for being assaulted by a man. All of these stereotypes are completely false: anyone of any gender or sexuality can be assaulted and anyone of any gender or sexuality can be a perpetrator. Assault has nothing to do with sex or attraction, it is an act of power, violence, and control. Due to these false and dangerous stereotypes, many men who are attacked will never report their assault.

Of course, the statements listed above are not exclusively used for men or for women. Gender identity and sexual orientation add complexity to a survivor’s experience and victim blaming may not always look the same.

In any instance, victim blaming is meant to make the survivor feel shamed for what has happened to him/her and make him/her feel as though it is somehow their fault.

Victim Blaming is not harmless and it is not a joke. Those who choose to partake in victim blaming will cause pain and hardship for a survivor who has already undergone a traumatic event.

Most importantly: It is never, ever the survivors’ fault. There is nothing that anyone can do, wear, or say that would make them responsible for a sexual crime that a perpetrator chooses to commit. Crimes happen when perpetrators decide to assault someone and there is no excuse.

Please visit the “How do I help my friend that has been assaulted?” section for the appropriate language to use when supporting a survivor. 

Check out these videos about victim blaming:

She Asked For It 

What Happened in Steubenville (Discussion about Victim Blaming starts at time 3:51)

What do I do if I have been assaulted?

If you feel you may have been sexually assaulted, it can be a very 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, eat, chew gum, brush your teeth, or brush your hair.  This could destroy important evidence. If you feel you must change clothes, put what you were wearing in a paper bag to save for evidence.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible to check for injuries, pregnancy (if applicable), 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 (937-229-3131) or Miami Valley Hospital (937-208-800) 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, but the sooner the test is conducted the clearer the results will be.
  • 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 Campus Ministry are free, and offer confidential resources for you, where you can get help throughout the recovery process.
  • If you are a student and are interested in reporting or learning more about your options, contact Title IX Coordinator Amy Zavadil in the Equity Compliance Office (937-229-3615) or Dean of Students Chris Schramm (937-229-1212) for more information.
  • University of Dayton Nondiscrimination Resource Center

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.  No 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 feelings.
  • 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. You can't be their friend and their therapist, and right now they need a friend.
  • 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. 

 

But I'm a man, 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.

Perpetrators can be any gender, race, or sexual orientation. Survivors can be any gender, race or sexual orientation. What you identify as has nothing to do with whether or not you can be sexually assaulted. It can happen to anyone and it's not your fault.

Assault has nothing to do with sexual attraction or sexuality. It is an act of power based personal violence that is meant to hurt and humiliate the survivor. If you are a man who has been assaulted it does not reflect on your individual sexuality or masculinity.

What is Bystander Intervention?

Bystander intervention is anything that you choose to do to intervene in a situation that looks like it may turn into sexual assault or violence. For more information learn how to be a Green Dot.


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.  Some 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. If there is a saftey emergency, please contact public saftey at 937-229-2121.

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

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

Books:

Consent:
- May I Kiss You by Mike Domitrz

Gender:
- Yes means Yes by Jessica Valenti & Jaclyn Friedman
- Guyland by Michael Kimmel
- Macho Paradox by Jackson Katz

Healing:
- The Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis
- Voices of Courage by Mike Domitrz
- The Sexual Healing Journey: A guide for survivors of sexual abuse by Wendy Maltz

Hookup Culture:
-The End of Sex by Donna Freitas
 - Sex and the Soul by Donna Freitas
- Hooking Up by Kathleen A Bogle

Websites:

www.1in6.org: 1in6 is an organization that helps men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood live healthier, happier lives.

www.mencanstoprape.org: Men can stop rape is a nonprofit organization that aims to redefine masculinity and male strength as part of preventing men’s violence against women.

www.rainn.org: RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. You can reach the RAINN hotline 24/7 for free, confidential, and secure help. Call at 1-800-656-4673 or access the online hotline at https://ohl.rainn.org/online/

www.womenslaw.org: Womenslaw.org provides legal information and support to victims of domestic violence and sexual violence.

www.pandys.org: Pandora’s Project provides support and resources to survivors of rape and sexual abuse. 

www.nsvrc.org: The National Sexual Violence Resource Center provides leadership in preventing and responding to sexual violence through collaboration, sharing and creating resources, and promoting research.

Did we miss some? Email Kristen Altenau Keen at Kkeen1@udayton.edu with your suggestions and we will add them to the list! 

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, occasionally checking in with your romantic relationship 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.  

What are rape myths?

Rape myths are beliefs that many people have grown up with due to messages they have received from peers, the media, and American society. This myths are just that: myths. The myths listed below are completely false and the responding reality is listed to the right of each myth. We encourage you to take a look at these myths so that you might recognize them in everyday life and arm yourself with knowledge of the realities of sexual assault.

MYTH

REALITY

If someone pays for a date, their date owes them sex.

No matter how expensive a date, sex is never a reasonable expectation in response. If you are worried that you will feel uncomfortable saying no after an expensive date consider brainstorming for cheap (yet fun) date options -or split the check!

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

92%-98% of sexual assault reports are found to be true, 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 or attention.

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 15% of women and 6% of men report being stalked during their lifetime.  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 that you trust for guidance. For more information visit the National Stalking Resource Center.

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 and sexual behaviors.

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 absence of a "no," it is the presence of a "yes." Some people will not say no if they feel scared, uncomfortable, or in shock. Tonic Immobility causes paralysis and can affect victims of sexual assult, making it impossible for them to say no. 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? Have the confidence to find someone who wants you as much as you want them.

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 and are likely to be someone the survivor knows. In general, there are no major psychological differences between individuals who commit sexual violence versus those who do not. The myth that a rapist will be someone who jumps out of the bushes with a knife and attacks a stranger is the fast minority of instance. In most instances, the perpetrator will be someone the survivor knows. 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.

What is the "Red Zone"?

The "Red Zone" refers to the first six weeks of a student's first year in college. During this time students are at an increased risk of assault more than any other time in their college career.  The transition from the safety of home to a new campus, and the combination of new surroundings, a less-restrictive lifestyle, and access to alcohol and other drugs (possibly for the first time) leads to an 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 at risk, and watch out for possibly problematic situations.

At the University of Dayton all first year students attend a program called “Red Zone” that is hosted in their dormitory on each individual residence floor. The members of PAVE (Peers Advocating for Violence Prevention) conduct an open, engaging presentation that helps educate new students about consent, bystander intervention, victim blaming, supporting survivors, and the resources available on campus. 

This information is cited from:

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

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, at deanofstudents@udayton.edu or 937-229-1212, or contact Amy Zavadil, Title IX Coordinator, at azavadil1@udayton.edu or 937-229-3615. You can also access information from the University of Dayton Nondiscrimination Resource Center.

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 Keen, Assistant Dean of Students, at 937-229-1217 or kkeen1@udayton.edu.

Contact Us

Sexual Violence Prevention

Gosiger Hall 206 
300 College Park 
Dayton, Ohio 45469 

937-229-1217