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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Sex should be 100 percent consensual

When most of us think of sexual assault, we think of dark alleys and masked perpetrators. But the National College Women Sexual Victimization Study suggested that around 90 percent of all sexual assaults involve an offender known to the victim.

Perhaps the victim knew the offender on a personal level. Maybe the two dated and the offender took the victim further than he or she wanted to go. 

Too often we forget that we are far more likely to encounter an overstepping of boundaries with someone familiar to us than be raped late at night in a park, and this is something we may be in a better position to prevent.

I cannot stress enough that I completely support the view that sex without consent is never the fault of the victim. Consent is always necessary, regardless of a person’s behavior or attire. But this is no reason to risk putting yourself in compromising situations. 

We cannot rely solely on others to ensure our safety and well-being, and it is unfortunate that certain behaviors or situations may lead someone to make assumptions about our tendency toward sexual activity. But we can’t afford to behave in ways that may put our safety in jeopardy while we wait for a severe overhaul in perceptions and attitudes. 

As a result, we have to take precautionary measures to see to it that we are always as safe as possible. Nothing is going to act as a complete safeguard, but anything that may reduce your chances of having to deal with a traumatic experience, and its potentially lifelong consequences, is worth enacting. 

According to Officer Bethany Wilson, of the University of Arizona Police Department Crime Prevention Office, such guidelines include going out in groups, always taking your cell phone with you, carrying enough money for a cab to arrive home safely, never leaving drinks unattended, only consuming drinks you have poured yourself and getting yourself to a safe place if you are feeling unwell while drinking or partying. 

It is also imperative to decide not only what sexual activities you are willing to engage in, but also whom you are comfortable doing it with, and you must communicate these expectations to a potential partner. 

Bonnie S. Fisher, who helped conduct the the Sexual Victimization of College Women study, found that victims of sexual assault often don’t see what’s been done to them as a crime.

Fisher lists reasons victims don’t fully understand their victimhood: “”embarrassment, not clearly understanding the legal definition of rape, not wanting to define someone they know who victimized them as a rapist or because they blame themselves for their sexual assault.””

Although it may be something of a mood-killer, telling someone that you have no interest in sleeping with him that evening may help you avoid a precarious situation. 

Frankly, who cares if some douchebag stops talking to you after you’ve made this clear? By being upfront about your intentions, you also get the advantage of not wasting your time talking to losers who won’t call you the next day, sex or no sex. 

It is no less valid but far more difficult to say no if you are half-dressed and already involved in an intimate situation. I daresay it is also more difficult to make a calculated decision about your boundaries in this situation if you have not thought about them beforehand. 

It’s unfair to expect someone to pick up on your discomfort if you have not made your boundaries known. Be firm and clear.

If you need help or further information, the Oasis Program run by Campus Health offers many resources, including counseling, advocacy and self-defense courses. It also provides tips and information on date and acquaintance rape risk reduction. The Oasis Center’s Step Up program aims to prevent violence by drawing on peer resources.

The Step Up program recently got a two-year grant and will be dealing with all forms of violence, everything from sexual assault to abusive language, said David Salafsky, director of Health Promotion and Preventive Services. Anyone who takes part in this program can walk away knowing how to take action against any type of violence against him or her, and the program is open to faculty and staff members in addition to students.

Sexual assault is never your fault, but it is your body and your life and you should be doing everything in your power to protect both. Don’t trust anyone else to do it for you.

— Dunja Nedic is an Australian exchange student. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

 

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