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Every April, Arizona State University participates in Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and joins together to support our community members who are victims and survivors of sexual and relationship violence. All month-long Sun Devils raise awareness about sexual assault and sexual and relationship violence while educating their community members on how to prevent violence.
While sexual assault most often occurs between individuals, sexual assault persists because of a larger societal context which supports violence. This societal context can best be explored through the continuum of violence. Sexual violence and assault exists on a continuum and encompasses a wide range of beliefs, words, behaviors and actions. This continuum can range from more overt beliefs, words, behaviors and actions, such as those which are easily recognized by our community as inherently violent, like physical sexual assault, or to more covert beliefs, words, behaviors and actions, such as those which are not always labeled as violent, like cat calling.
There are many ways to be involved in violence prevention because violence, and that which contributes to violence, can occur in many different online and in-person environments and interactions.
Get involved today by spreading awareness via social media, consider downloading the following:
Utilize our SAAM Zoom background for any updating meetings or class sessions.
Visit the Education page to browse additional educational topics.
We recognize that these topics can seem intimidating, but the first step is to engage with them in whatever format you are most comfortable. That could mean reading an article on stalking or domestic violence, attending an upcoming event, following ASU's Sexual and Relationship Violence Program on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, checking in with a friend and more. There are many ways in which we can engage in violence prevention and take action.
We all can play a role in violence prevention by speaking up and stepping in when we notice something that may be concerning or problematic. Sometimes this is during an incident, but other times it is after the fact. Learn more about how to be an empowered bystander.
Preventing any problem first starts with education. This not only begins with you working to raise your own awareness and understanding, but your community’s awareness as well. Start conversations about this topic with other students and challenge myths about violence when you hear them. Learn more about Denim Day and how you can start these conversations online.
Start conversations about consent with friends and partners. Model consent in your daily lives, not just in your relationships.
Identify and address rape culture and all that exists on the continuum of violence.
Take action not only as an individual, but as a community by learning more about the topic, engaging in campus events and acting as empowered bystanders.
Start by listening to and believing victims and survivors. Offer resources and ask how they can feel best supported.
If you feel that you have experienced violence, or that you could use some more information to help support a friend who may be experiencing violence, there are resources available to you:
Mutual consent means that all partners involved in the activity actually want to be there. If even one person isn’t expressing a willingness to participate, or seems hesitant, then consent isn’t in the room.
This applies not only to our sexual and intimate experiences, but to our everyday lives. You can’t move forward on a group project, unless everyone has agreed that they are ready to move onto the next section.
Mutual consent is informed and freely given words or actions that express a willingness to participate. Mutual consent reminds us to check in with everyone. If anyone is showing any hesitation, then consent isn’t present.
Consent must be voluntary and freely given. Yes, this means that consent can change: “Yes, I really want to”, “Okay, let me know if that changes.” We may feel like something at one moment, but not feel like it a little later on and that’s okay. No one should feel any pressure to give their consent.
Voluntary consent cannot be:
Consent is clear. Know or it’s no. If you are unsure, then you do not have consent. If you notice someone feeling unsure or hesitating, “I’m not sure”, then stop, check in and respect their boundaries, “that’s okay, we can just watch a movie instead.” This is not an opportunity to convince, persuade, or coerce someone into giving consent (for more information see, Consent is Voluntary). Sexual coercion is a form of sexual violence because it voids consent.
You cannot give clear consent when you aren’t fully aware of the situation or aren’t fully yourself. Thus, clear consent can never be given by someone who is:
Consent is active and is required before every act, every single time. Just because someone consented to one form of sexual or intimate activity earlier, does not mean they are consenting now. We have to check in, every time. This also means anyone can change their mind during an activity. Consent can be withdrawn at any time and must be an active part of any interaction between people.
Active consent reminds us to check in: “are you still feeling this?”, “do you like this?”, “do you want to do something else?”
Consent is necessary because it is required, no matter the context, no matter the relationship. There is no situation or relationship in which consent can be assumed.
This means that consent cannot be implied from:
Enthusiastic consent means there’s excitement about what’s happening! A shrug of the shoulders or a “sure” doesn’t tell you whether or not someone is really into it. Anything that leaves you wondering if the other person really wants to be there with you, isn’t consent. You want your partner(s) to be enthusiastic about the activity they are hoping to engage in with you.
This applies to all our relationships. When we are hoping to hang out with a friend, wouldn’t we want them to feel happy and enthusiastic about seeing us? If not, that may be a good opportunity to check in and see how you can support them, maybe they are feeling stressed about an upcoming exam and need the extra time to study.
Consent is enthusiastic when the situation not only aligns with our own well-being and what’s important to us, but when we actually want to be there.
Communities across the nation join together throughout the month of April to raise awareness about sexual and relationship violence and take action to prevent violence within their communities. Every day, we have the opportunity to prevent violence within our communities and to contribute to an environment in which all Sun Devils can thrive. One of the best ways to begin to commit to daily actions that prevent violence is to educate ourselves on the issue at hand:
Creating a community in which all Sun Devils have the ability to thrive starts with respect, which includes respecting other's boundaries. While disrespect is not directly labeled on the continuum of violence, being respectful helps us not contribute to any of the violent behaviors contained within the continuum.
There will be times in which we may not understand why someone is uncomfortable with something or has a particular preference, such as meeting in a public place. It is not an expectation that we always understand everyone’s preferences, but it is an expectation that we respect these preferences and work to better understand them for the future.
The necessity for respectful interactions does not only pertain to sexual and romantic relationships, but to all interpersonal interactions. Respecting other's boundaries can mean:
There are a lot of ways in which relationships are defined. Sometimes this is done by labeling a partner or the relationship with language such as “significant other” or “dating”. Other times relationships are understood by the amount of time that has passed between partners, from three minutes to three years. While all relationships will evolve and shift, one thing that remains constant is the necessity for consent to be present between partners.
No matter the length of time, no matter the type of relationship, all activities (not just sexual or romantic activities) require clear, enthusiastic, active, mutual and voluntary consent.
Language has a powerful effect on environments and communities. It has the power to invite people into spaces and to make them feel welcome, and the power to exclude others or even harm them. Most importantly, language has the power to heal and to make positive change within our communities. Part of sexual violence and assault prevention is speaking up when we hear something that could hurt and has the potential create an environment that is not supportive of victims or survivors of violence.