Sexual violence is defined as any non-consensual physical conduct of a sexual nature and encompasses a broad range of behaviors including but not limited to:
1. non-consensual sexual intercourse
2. non-consensual sexual contact
3. sexual exploitation
Affirmative consent is an affirmative decision to engage in mutually acceptable sexual activity given by clear actions or words. It is an informed decision made freely and actively by all parties who are legally able to consent. Affirmative consent can be revoked. Thus, a person who initially consents to sexual activity may subsequently express by words or any other behavior, at any time, a lack of agreement to continue engaging in sexual activity.
A person cannot legally consent to sex if he or she:
- is under the age of sixteen (in the state of South Carolina)
- has a mental disorder or developmental or physical disability that renders him or her incapable of giving consent
- is not conscious or is asleep
- is incapacitated from alcohol or other drugs, and this condition is known or reasonably should be known to the accused
- is induced to engage in sexual activity by the other person's physical coercion or abuse of position of power, trust, or authority, and/or use of artificial means (i.e. drugs such as Rohypnol)
What should you do...
...if you are assaulted?
- stay calm and think logically
- go with instincts- the goal is to escape safely
- call for help or get to a safe place
- don't shower, change clothes, or brush teeth
- don't clean up the scene
- get counseling
- file a formal or informal complaint
...if someone tells you they have been attacked?
- Listen. If you find yourself doubting your friend’s story or experience, don’t express it.
- Let your friend lead the conversation. Allow your friend to determine the pace and focus of the conversation. Because sexual victimization is such a disempowering experience it is important to allow the survivor to maintain control over what happens next.
- Inform yourself about resources. Be able to help him or her understand the available options, but your friend should be the one to decide how to proceed.
- Be reassuring. Your friend is not at fault. No one asks to be sexually victimized. Avoid judgmental questions and statements. Remember that your friend may be blaming him- or herself.
- Take care of yourself.
- If you are supporting your friend, be sure to take care of yourself:
- Be aware of your own feelings.
- Know and respect your own limits. There is only so much you can do to help your friend. Provide support and compassion, however, try to spread yourself too thin and encourage your friend to seek additional support, such as CARE or the Counseling Center.
- Remember that it was not your fault. If you find yourself feeling guilty and believing that you could have stop this event from occurring, remind yourself that the blame lies only with the person(s) who committed the acts of sexual misconduct.
- Do not be afraid to ask for help. Find someone other than the survivor to talk with about your feelings. Talking with someone from CARE or the Counseling Center can help you understand your own emotions about what has happened.
- Keep the rest of your life on track.