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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato


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Preventing sexual violence is work aimed at potential perpetrators rather than victims or survivors. It aims to stop sexual violence, with all the actions and attitudes that comprise and contribute to this crime, rather than to prevent it from happening to individual people.

All of us in our communities, societies, and cultures, have the responsibility to make life better for everyone, including ourselves. Preventing sexual violence is a part of this. It takes years, decades, or even a whole lifetime, to recover from an act of sexual violence. Sexual violence results in physical, psychological, and emotional pain and stress, often causing the survivor to reduce or stop performance in school, work, and everyday life.

There are three main components of sexual violence prevention:

 1. Preventing ourselves from committing sexual violence.

  • Letting others know that sexual violence is not acceptable.

  • Respecting a person's right to say "no."

  • Stop a potential perpetrator from using alcohol to get a person drunk so that she or he will sexually assault that person.

  • Avoid using threats, harassment, or coercion to get sex.

  • Not engaging in sexual activity with someone who is mentally or psychologically disabled.

  • Not engaging in sexual activity with someone under the age of 16.

  • Not assuming that your parter is consenting to everything if they say yes to one thing. Always ask!

2. Getting Consent

Sexual assault is defined as any act of sexual activity committed without or against a person's consent. 

Consent is a verbal agreement by everyone involved, to participate in a sexual activity. It has to be free of coercion, threats, manipulation or intimidation.

Consent can not be given if a person:

  • Is coerced, threatened, bribed, or forced

  • Has a weapon used against her or him

  • Is under the age of 16 (in MN)

  • Is mentally disabled

  • Under the influence of drugs or alcohol

  • Is asleep or unconscious

Consent has to be verbal. Consent can be revoked at any time!

Top Ten Reasons to Obtain Verbal Consent for Sex

  1. Many partners find it sexy to be asked, as sex progresses, if it's ok.

  2. Sex is better when each partner enjoys what is happening and when no one is forced to do something she or he doesn't want to do.

  3. If your partner is having a good time and is not forced to do something against her/his will, she/he will be more likely to want to see you again. Mutual respect is the best basis for friendship and intimacy.

  4. Forcing sexual activity on another person can violate state and federal laws, as well as MSU's policy. In most cases, unwanted touching and fondling is considered sexual assault.

  5. It prevents misunderstandings. Silence is not "yes".

  6. You don't want to be accused of rape.

  7. You don't want to go to jail or be expelled.

  8. It's better to be safe than sorry.

  9. If you want to impose your sexual will on someone, your behavior has more to do with dominating that person than enjoying sexuality and an intimate relationship.

  10. Why would you want to have sex with someone who doesn't like what you are doing?

adapted from Bernice Sandler's website.

 3. Don't participate in a rape-supportive culture

Many people have already begun the examination their own behaviors to prevent themselves from committing acts of sexual violence. It is also important to examine all of our attitudes, individually as well as those of our communities, societies, and cultures.

Here in the US, and in many parts of the world, the dominant culture's attitudes about gender, sex, and sexual assault make up a rape-supportive culture. Rape-supportive behaviors and attitudes contribute to the idea that sexual assault is not a big problem. They imply to perpetrators that the crimes of sexual assault are natural, tolerable, expected, or encouraged, and they will probably be overlooked. Sexual assault prevention means changing our rape-supportive culture. It means thinking about our own attitudes. It means having courage, taking the risk of feeling uncomfortable in speaking up when we see or hear other people espousing or participating in these beliefs.

Here a few examples of the many components of rape-supportive culture:

  • Glorifying violence, whether it is through advertising, movies, books, magazines, TV, etc., or in real life.

  • Believing that women are subordinate to men.

  • Admiring people who assert control over other people.

  • Believing that some people owe sex to other people. For example, when one partner pays for dinner on a date, the other person owes physical intimacy, or that husbands have the right to sex when they want it.

  • Blaming victims of sexual assault. For example, believing that the victim "asked for it" by behaving or dressing in certain ways.

  • Acting as if sexual urges must be immediately gratified.

  • Teaching others that "real men" are dominant, powerful, and in control.

  • Making jokes or comments that degrade women.

  • Thinking that "real men" have no emotion but anger.

  • Teaching that survivors should be ashamed that sexual assault happened to them.

  • Disrespecting men who show emotion or who are deemed not powerful.

  • Assuming that people are incapable of understanding their own sexuality. For example, gay men just want to be women, lesbian women just need "good sex" with a man to convert them, and women need a man to show them how to have and enjoy sex.