Sexual Assault Awareness
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Sexual assault can take many different forms and be defined in different ways, but one thing remains the same: it’s never the victim’s fault.
The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim. Some forms of sexual assault include:
- Attempted rape
- Fondling or unwanted sexual touching
- Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body
- Penetration of the victim’s body, also known as rape
Sexual Assault is strictly prohibited at Liberty University and is a violation of Liberty University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy.
Safety Tips: Reduce the Risk of Experiencing Sexual Misconduct:
- Make any limits and/or boundaries you may have known to the other person as early as possible.
- Tell a sexual aggressor “no” as clearly and firmly as possible.
- Remove yourself, if possible, from an aggressor’s physical presence.
- Reach out for help, either from someone who is physically nearby or by calling someone. Bystanders around you may be waiting for a signal that you need help.
- Look out for your friends and ask them to look out for you. Respect them, and ask them to respect you, but be willing to challenge each other about high-risk choices.
- Do not share intimate content, pictures, images, and videos with others, even those you may trust. If you do share, clarify your expectations as to how or if those images may be used, shared, or disseminated.
- Remember that alcohol and drug use can increase your vulnerability to sexual victimization.
Reduce the Risk of Committing Sexual Misconduct:
- Always clearly communicate your intentions and give others a chance to clearly communicate their intentions to you.
- If they say, “no” or give any other verbal or non-verbal indication that they do not want the physical contact. Stop immediately.
- Respect personal boundaries. If the person says they are uncomfortable with your actions, stop what you are doing and respect their decision.
- Avoid ambiguity. Just ask. Do not make assumptions about consent, about whether someone is attracted to you, or how far you can go with that person. If you have questions or are unclear, you do not have consent.
- Mixed messages are a clear indication that you should stop your actions.
- Never take advantage of someone’s altered state due to substances, or otherwise.
- Realize that someone could feel intimidated by you. You may have a power advantage simply because of your gender or physical presence.
- Understand that consent to some form of behavior does not automatically imply consent to any other forms of sexual behavior.
- Silence, passivity, or non-responsiveness cannot be interpreted as an indication of consent. Pay attention to verbal and non-verbal communications and body language when seeking to determine consent.
- Voluntary, affirmative, and freely given
- Clear words or actions that both people agree to the sexual or physical activity
- Consent to one form of sexual activity does not, by itself, constitute consent to any other forms of sexual activity.
- Consent can be withdrawn or modified at any time.
- Consent cannot be obtained by physical force or the threat of physical force.
- Previous relationships or previous consent do not, by themselves, constitute consent to future sexual acts.
- Consent to an act with one person does not give consent to such an act with another person.
Consent looks like:
- Asking permission before you change the type or degree of sexual or physical activity with phrases like “Is this OK?”
- Confirming that there is reciprocal interest before initiating any physical touch.
- Letting your partner know that you can stop at any time.
- Periodically checking in with your partner, such as asking “Is this still okay?”
- Providing positive feedback when you’re comfortable with an activity.
- Explicitly agreeing to certain activities, either by saying “yes” or another affirmative statement, like “I’m comfortable with that.”
- Using physical cues to let the other person know you’re comfortable
Bystander intervention is recognizing a potentially harmful situation or interaction and choosing, in a safe way, to interrupt it for the sake of a better outcome. It’s just a sophisticated way to say, look out for each other. Stepping in or confronting someone can be intimidating and it’s normal to feel that way. But, at Liberty University we want to challenge ourselves to do and be better within our community. See the steps below for more information.
STEP 1: Notice the Event: pay attention to your surroundings
STEP 2: Interpret the Situation as a Problem: err on the side of caution
STEP 3: Take Responsibility: Do not assume someone else will do something to help
STEP 4: Know How to Help: Use the information you’ve learned to respond appropriately
STEP 5: Intervene Safely: Do not put yourself in harm’s way, if the situation is dangerous get help from LUPD or an RA.
Healthy Relationship Behaviors:
We know that the key to preventing sexual misconduct is to cultivate healthy relationships. Healthy relationships are those build on trust, honesty, communication, respect, and consent.
Your relationship is healthy when your friend or partner:
- Respects your decisions and boundaries
- Accepts your friends and family
- Listens to your opinions
- Trusts you
- Is happy when you feel fulfilled
- Supports you when you are upset or get bad news
- Communicates and gets your approval when making plans
- Makes sure to have your consent before physical contact
Your relationship is beginning to become unhealthy when your friend or partner:
- Ignores you
- Blackmails you if you refuse to do something
- Belittles you and your opinion
- Makes fun of you
- Manipulates you
- Is constantly jealous
- Controls where you go and how you spend your time or money
- Goes through your texts, emails, or social media messages
- Insist that you send them intimate photos
- Isolates you from friends or family
There is violence when your friend or partner:
- Calls you crazy when you express concern about their actions
- “Blows a fuse” when they are unhappy about something
- Pushes, pulls, slaps, shakes, or hits you
- Threatens suicide because of you
- Touches you intimately without your consent
- Threatens to circulate intimate photos of you
- Forces you to watch pornography
- Forces you, either physically or through coercion, to have sex
- Homepage – YWCA Central Virginia (ywcacva.org)
- Homepage | National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC)
- It’s On Us | About Sexual Violence (itsonus.org)
- RAINN | The nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization
- Liberty University Police Department
- LU Safe Ride Program | Liberty University Police Department
- The Office of the Commonwealth Attorney | City of Lynchburg, VA (lynchburgva.gov)
- Sexual Assault Awareness Month Resources | Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services
- Home – Lynchburg Police Department (lynchburgvapolice.gov)