Sexual Consent Awareness: Guidance and Support

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Sexual Consent is essentially the agreement to participate in a sexual activity outside of force, emotional manipulation, and using a clear, sober and sound mind.

This article details what sexual consent is, what it isn’t, and where you can find support and guidance about sexual assault.

The number one thing, which is unfailing and true, is that sexual assault and rape is never the victim’s fault.

Consent can only occur when someone is happily willing and able to participate and agree to a sexual activity. Sexual assault and rape are not always penetration alone; it can come in forms of groping, being pressured into sexual activities, emotional manipulation and exploitation of vulnerability. Sex should be enjoyable and safe, and consent is required for this to be true. Consent should never be assumed, and it can be retracted at any point during sexual activity.

Consent is verbal, behavioural, physical and obvious. If you are unsure whether somebody is consenting, stop and ask. If you are unsure that you want to participate in a sexual activity, wait until you are 100% certain that you want to. There is absolutely no pressure to do anything you don’t want to do.

Nights Out

When most people think of a typical student night out they’re likely to imagine a somewhat messy evening, with students stumbling home drunk and asking themselves why they have a pub coaster stuck to their cheek. While this may be the experience that excites every Fresher, it doesn’t always go to plan. 

Being in a new environment and a new culture can be scary, and to be clear, it is never your responsibility to look after yourself to avoid sexual assault, but there are some things you may want to be mindful of on nights out:

  1. Never accept a drink from a stranger.
  2. Always look after your drink and watch out for spiking.
  3. Don’t walk home alone and don’t let your friends go off alone or with people they don’t know.
  4. If something feels wrong, trust your gut.
  5. Make sure when using taxi’s and Ubers, that they are a trusted service or it is actually Uber you ordered.
  6. Use security and people around you for help.

Even if someone doesn’t do these things, under no circumstances does it mean they ‘asked’, ‘deserved’ or ‘put themselves in the position’ to be assaulted. It is never the victim’s fault. 

You also need to be aware of your own actions. You may not have ill-intention towards somebody, but you need to be aware of other people’s boundaries and how to respect them. If you meet someone you click with, that’s fine. But if they don’t want to grind or dance with you, that’s their choice. If they don’t want to go home with you, don’t buy them another drink to ‘convince’ them. No means no. Moreover, a large majority of sexual assault is committed by someone the victim knows, and having had sex with somebody in the past does not mean consent is automatically assumed again. 

People in severely drunken states cannot consent to sexual activity. If they pass out, black out, are stumbling or can’t even speak, they’re not in any position to understand what they are consenting to. 

Consent applies to everybody, regardless of gender identity, sexuality, fashion choice, religion, or ethnicity. Consent applies to groping, pressuring, sexual activity and lewd comments. Be aware of your choices and actions towards other people.

If you’re unsure about your actions, or someone else’s, please reach out!

Available support services and resources

Yellow Door Helpline: Wednesdays, 4-7pm

Yellow Door offer a variety of services from counselling to legal guidance. Their helpline is from 4-7pm and can be called on 023 8063 6313. Please note, Yellow Door is not a crisis service.

Crisis Services

Should you need a crisis service, Treetops can be contacted at 0300 123 6616. Other crisis services include: the Samaritans who can be reached by 116 123 for mental health; StopHate UK campaign for LGBTQ+ specific support on 0808 801 0661; and for male specific support, Survivors UK at 020 3598 3898.

Please remember that if you are at immediate risk, always call 999.

Letstalkaboutit.org 

This NHS funded clinic offers free STD tests to anyone in Hampshire. They can be delivered by post, free and discreetly packaged, with results back in 5-10 days. 

The Harassment Tool

The Harassment Tool is there for students to anonymously report hate crime and other incidents in a safe way, accessed via https://www.susu.org/support/report-harassment.html

Enabling Services

The Enabling Services drop in from 1-3pm (Mon-Fri) is an initial port of call for students, who can then be signposted to relevant and appropriate services.

First Support and Student Life

First Support and Student Life are a dedicated team that is available 24/7 in halls. The First Support number can be found on the back of your ID card.

The Safety Bus

The Safety Bus will take you back to your door for £3. If you’re based in Winchester they’ll drive you back to your door for £4.50 after the WSA Shuttle Bus has finished at 23:00.

https://www.susu.org/support/safety-bus.html

Your GP

Your GP is there to give you impartial medical advice, and to make you feel safe. You are able to request a GP of a specific gender if that feels better, simply ask when making an appointment.

Your PAT /Senior Leadership Team 

You can speak to your relevant Senior Leadership Team or the Special Considerations Team to make sure that there are provisions in place to ensure your education is looked after as well. PAT’s will be trained on these topics.

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