W&L is a community where we expect everyone to do their part to create a safe and welcoming environment for all. This includes being an active bystander.
Being an active bystander involves:
- Recognize a situation as inappropriate.
- While some situations are easily noticeable as potentially dangerous, other situations are better characterized as problematic or behaviors that have the potential to escalate to dangerous situations. Sexual violence does not come out of nowhere. It exists on a continuum and is supported by cultural patterns of disrespect and pressure. Behavior does not need to constitute a potential violation of University Policy before intervention is necessary. It is important that we intervene for non-physical/non-violent inappropriate conduct--such as sexist attitudes, victim blaming, rape jokes, etc--as much as we do for more severe conduct. When we intervene early, we reduce the likelihood that the more serious actions occur and create an environment where no form of sexual misconduct is acceptable.
- Assume responsibility
- Survey data shows that the vast majority of W&L students say that they will be an active bystander to prevent sexual misconduct and will respect someone who chooses to intervene. ·
- Determine how to help
- There is no right or wrong way to intervene. Remember the three "I's": Intervene Directly, Involve Others, or Interrupt the Situation. You can be creative in your approach; it does not always have to be confrontational. Community members who choose to assist under these circumstances will be supported by the University and protected from retaliation.
- Take action!
The University provides mandatory bystander training for all entering students. Anyone interested in additional training should contact the Director of Health Promotion, Jan Kaufman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adopting and embracing a healthy sexuality is a core piece of prevention. We want a culture that values and expects kindness and respect. While consent determines whether or not sexual contact is a violation of University Policy and state law, consent is the bare minimum required. Consent is a necessary, but not sufficient component of a healthy sexual encounter. Going beyond the minimum standard of consent is about a mutual desire for intimacy and pleasure.
How can you maximize pleasure and agency? Ask these questions:
- Do all parties AGREE and UNDERSTAND before initiating sexual activity?
- "Are you down to do_______?"
- "Are you sober enough?"
- Do all parties WANT to? Make space for all parties to be able to change their mind and say no. Pay attention to body language to check if your partner(s) is into it.
- "What are you in the mood to do?"
- "I don't want to do anything you're not into."
- "Do you want to____?"
- Is this ETHICAL? Pay attention to any power differences (age, physical size, status). Establish upfront if the sexual activity is a hookup or relationship. Everyone should feel valued and respected. Use protection to prevent STIs and pregnancy.
- "Will we feel good about this later?"
- "Are you in a good place emotionally for this?"
- "Do you have a condom or dental dam?"
- Is it FUN? All parties' enjoyment are equally prioritized, and they can freely express their sexuality without shame or judgment.
- "Does this feel good?"
- "Will you do ____ to me?"
Some of the most basic needs that relationships fulfill include:
- Reciprocity: being able to give and receive love freely.
- Mutual respect: being able to affirm and support the other person.
- Intimacy: feeling emotionally and physically close to another.
- Boundaries: awareness of ourselves and the other person as separate individuals.
- Commitment: allowing one another to feel secure in the relationship.
- Vulnerability: being able to share our most private experiences with another.
- Communication: having a sense of being heard and known by the other person.
In order enter into a healthy relationship, a person must be able to have a healthy relationship with themselves. Here are some suggestions for developing a better self-relationship:
- Self-check: Take a few minutes throughout the day to check in with your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in that moment without judging them or trying to change them. Consider it a kind of "weather update" for your emotions.
- Self-talk: Pay attention to your inner dialogue. Are you critical of yourself? Do you talk to yourself in a loving manner? Make a conscious effort to be empathic and compassionate in your self-talk.
- Focus on the present: Much of our time is spent reflecting on the past or planning for the future rather than living our lives in the moment. Pay close attention to everything that is going on around you and inside you as often as possible.
- Acceptance and control: Much of our unhappiness stems from trying to control ourselves or others in unrealistic ways. Practice accepting whatever is true in the moment, even if it is something unpleasant. Be realistic about what is and is not in your control.
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness requires discipline in the same way that healthy eating and exercise require discipline. You can practice mindfulness through meditation, yoga, and everyday mindfulness in tasks such as eating and walking.
While we all strive for healthy relationships, all relationships face conflict; things don't always go smoothly and unhealthy behaviors come up. Conflict can be resolved when a person corrects their unhealthy behavior and works together to restore equality in the relationship. However, if a person continues unhealthy behaviors, exhibits several unhealthy behaviors, and/or you notice a pattern of unhealthy behaviors, the relationship may have turned abusive. Learn more about Healthy vs Unhealthy Relationships
Various apps for cell phones are designed to prevent violence.
- LiveSafe: free W&L specific mobile-safety technology.
- report suspicious activity, harassment, a disturbance, or other issue. Reports can be submitted anonymously if the user chooses;
- use a "virtual escort" service;
- summon emergency help.
- Circle of 6: free app that allows you to automatically send your circle of six trusted friends a pre-programmed SMS alert message with your exact location.
- MyPlan App: a tool with safety decisions if you, or someone you care about, is experiencing abuse in their intimate relationship.
To learn more, check out the various articles in CampusWell magazine:
- Want to help protect against sexual assault? Make respect the norm
- How to step in when you see someone experiencing unwanted pressure or harassment
- Bystander intervention goes professional: 4 tips for stepping in on the job