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Sexual Assault Awareness for International Students

Sexual Assault is a growing concern for many international students, and with this video you can learn all about what Sexual Assault is and the importance concept of consent, how you can prevent an assault from happening and what to do if one does occur.

If you are a school and would like to show this video as part of your student orientation, so that your students may gain awareness of the issue of sexual assault, please contact us for more information.

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Sexual assault on campus has received a lot of media attention, as studies show that as many as 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted in college. Most sexual assaults are by someone the victim knew, and most are never reported.

In this short video, we’ll help you understand what sexual assault is and explore the important concept of consent. We'll then talk about how to keep you and your friends safe, as well as the obligations on your school to help you continue your education if an assault does occur.

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the agreement of both partners. This can include forced or unwanted kissing, touching or rape, as well as persistent or unwanted sexual comments. Although most victims are women, 1 in 16 men are also assaulted.

Countries and cultures around the world have varying standards to determine what is unacceptable or criminal sexual behavior, so it’s important to know the rules in the United States - and it all starts with consent.

Understanding Consent

Consent is when both people agree to engage in sexual activity, and requires both you and your partner to voluntarily say “yes” every step of the way, without feeling pressured or intimidated and without being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Here are a few tips for understanding sexual consent:

  • Don’t make assumptions - A person’s body language, dress, previous sexual activity, silence or even marriage are not an indication that your partner agrees to sex.
  • Know the legal age for sex - the legal age for sexual activity in the US varies from state to state. Make sure you know the legal age of your state, as sexual activity with anyone under these ages is against the law, even if they said “yes” every step of the way.
  • Ongoing consent - Even if your partner has said yes in the past, they still have their right to change their mind at any time.
  • Unconsciousness is not consent - Someone who is drunk, on drugs, passed out or simply asleep cannot consent to sex, even if it seemed like they wanted to before.

Without consent from both parties, any sexual behavior can be considered sexual assault under US law and can be prosecuted, with the chance of long prison sentences.

Staying Safe

While there is no way to completely eliminate the risk of sexual assault, here are some tips to help you stay safe as an international student in the US:

  • Know your limits (not spoken, onscreen)
    • Over half of all reported sexual assaults by college students involved alcohol. Drinking too much can put you in situations where you might be vulnerable.
  • Watch your drinks (not spoken, onscreen)
    • Incidents also occur when drugs (known as date-rape drugs) are slipped into your drink without your knowledge, making you feel sleepy or even pass out. Make sure to keep your drinks with you at all times, and if you happen to let it out of your sight, don’t drink it!
  • Remove yourself or say no! (not spoken, onscreen)
    • If you feel uncomfortable, it is always okay to remove yourself from the situation or say “No”. Be clear and confident about your limits, leaving no room for misunderstanding.
  • Don’t go alone (not spoken, onscreen)
    • Keep your cell phone charged at all times, and avoid walking home alone at night. Stay with a group of trusted friends who can make sure that everyone gets home safely!

It’s very important to remember that that the victim of sexual assault is never to blame.

Bystander Intervention

We all have a role to play in preventing sexual assault, and there are many ways in which you can make a difference if you see someone at risk. The four main steps to “Bystander Intervention” starts with CARE:

  • Create a distraction - do what you can to interrupt the situation if you see something occurring.
  • Ask directly - talk to the person in trouble and see if they need help.
  • Refer to an authority - talk to an authoritative figure who can change the situation, like a bartender, security guard or the local police.
  • Enlist the help of others - ask others to help you intervene!

It’s important to help your friends and peers when they are in need, so take a stand and help others when you can.

Seeking Help

Sexual assault is a crime, but most assaults are never reported. It is a personal decision, but reporting an assault can help you regain a sense of personal power and control, and it could prevent it from happening to someone else. Medical professionals and police are trained to treat victims of sexual assault, and your school has counselors that can help. It is also important to know that you can report to your school and that does not necessarily mean that the police or law enforcement will be involved - that is a decision you can make for yourself.

Often students are concerned that if they report a sexual assault, it will somehow interfere with their education. If the assault occurred on campus or by another student, your school is required by law to:

  1. Have an established procedure and designated person to handle your situation;
  2. Take action to help you continue your education;
  3. Keep you safe from discrimination, harassment and violence

This could include counselling, private tutoring, changing your campus housing, or other remedies to ensure that your education continues without feeling threatened. Remember your school is on your side and there to help you!

Conclusion

All international students deserve to have a safe and enjoyable college experience. Remember to be aware of your surroundings, mindful of drugs or alcohol, help keep your friends safe, and be very clear about sexual consent.

If you, or someone you know is the victim of sexual assault, medical personnel, law enforcement, your school and counselors are there to help. You can also get help and support from RAINN at:


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