Preventing Sexual Violence & Being an Upstander

Thinking about the possibility of someone you love becoming a victim of sexual assault is scary, and naturally we all would like to know how we can avoid becoming a victim. We all would prefer to think that if we did “everything” right, nothing bad would happen to us. This page includes links to various links relating to personal safety tips that anyone can use, but it is important to remember that while these tips may reduce the likelihood that you will be victimized, as with any violent crime, there is nothing you can do to guarantee that you will not be a victim of sexual violence. No one deserves to be sexually assaulted, regardless of whether or not they use these tips.

Be an Upstander: Supporting Others & Creating Safe Communities

Sexual violence is a community issue. It affects everyone the victim knows and loves. It affects their community when people hear about it and wonder how they can support the victim and question their own safety. It also affects everyone the perpetrator knows, who may have knowingly or unknowingly condoned behavior that could lead to violence later.

If one person is not safe, then none of us are. While that is a scary thought, there are things we can do about it as a community. Some of the reasons people don’t say anything is because they think they might be seen as making a big deal out of something that isn’t a big deal. They suspect that maybe others don’t feel the same way as they do, because they fear no one will back them up, or they don’t recognize it as a problem. If you are uncomfortable, you are not the only one.

People who speak up when they hear someone making victim-blaming statements are important for several reasons. They show victims that they are a safe person to talk to and encourage other victims to come forward, they demonstrate to potential perpetrators that those attitudes are not supported in the community, and they role-model positive behavior for other community members who may also wish to speak up. Be an Upstander, not a Bystander!

What Is “Rape Culture”?

“Rape culture” is a phrase commonly used to describe a cultural environment in which sexual violence is not only prominent; it is tacitly sanctioned through widely promoted beliefs about gender, sexuality, and violence – norms. Norms are what we all agree is the normal or average way of doing things. Five social norms contribute to sexual violence: Normalization of Violence, Narrow Definitions of Masculinity (boys will be boys), Narrow Definitions of Femininity (objectification), Power Over Others, and Privacy & Silence. Each of these norms contribute to a culture in which attitudes and practices normalize, excuse, tolerate, and even condone rape and violence, particularly violence against women and women-identified people, in general.

For more information about norms supportive of violence and how victim-blaming statements support and condone violence: