“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” - Gandhi
What is gender-based violence...
…and how big of a problem is it on college campuses?
Gender-based violence is any act of violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to individuals, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life. This includes stalking, dating/domestic violence, and sexual assault.
- Nearly half (43%) of dating college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors.
- More than half of all college students (57%) say it is difficult to identify dating abuse and (58%) don’t know how to help someone who’s experiencing it.
- Approximately 75% of undergraduate and 69% of graduate/professional students who identify as TGQN (transgender, genderqueer, non-conforming) reported being sexually harassed.
- Slightly more than 20% of TGQN college students have been sexually assaulted.
What is consent?
Words or actions that demonstrate a knowing or voluntary willingness to engage in mutually-agreed-upon sexual activity constitutes consent.
Want to see consent in action? Check out this video from Campus Clarity.
Consent cannot be gained by force, by ignoring objections, or by taking advantage of another’s incapacitation. Consent may not be inferred from silence or any other lack of active resistance. It may not be implied by attire or inferred from an individual by spending money on that individual (e.g. buying a meal on a date). Prior consent does not imply consent to future sexual acts. In addition, consent to one type of sexual act does not automatically imply consent to another type of sexual act. Once a person says “no,” it does not matter if or what kind of sexual behavior has occurred at an earlier date in time. For example, if one individual says “no” and the other forces penetration, it is sexual misconduct.
Consent may not be given by the following persons:
- Individuals who are mentally incapacitated at the time of the sexual contact in a manner that prevents them from understanding the nature or consequences of the sexual act involved
- Individuals who are unconscious or otherwise physically helpless
- Minors, as defined by the Commonwealth of Virginia
Incapacitation is defined as the physical and/or mental inability to make informed, rational judgments that voids an individual’s ability to give consent. Incapacitation may be caused by a permanent or temporary physical or mental impairment. Incapacitation may also result from the consumption of alcohol or the use of drugs.
The use of alcohol or drugs may, but does not automatically affect a person’s ability to consent to sexual contact. The consumption of alcohol or drugs may create a mental incapacity if the nature and degree of the intoxication goes beyond the stage of merely reduced inhibition and has reached a point where the victim does not understand the nature and consequences of the sexual act. In such cases, the person cannot consent.
A person violates Emory & Henry College’s sexual misconduct policy if they have sexual contact with someone they know or should know is mentally incapacitated or has reached the degree of intoxication, which results in incapacitation. The test of whether an individual should know about another’s incapacitation is whether a reasonable, sober person would know about the incapacitation. An accused student cannot rebut a sexual misconduct charge merely by arguing that they were drunk or otherwise impaired and, as a result did not know that the other person was incapacitated.
A person who is passed out or unconscious as a result of the consumption of alcohol or drugs is physically helpless and is not able to consent.
Stalking is defined as a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. To convict a stalker, several legal elements of the crime must be proven to the court (See Code of Virginia Code §§ 18.2-60.3).
Dating violence is defined as violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim.
Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior used by one individual to assert power or maintain control over another in the context of an intimate or family relationship. This can be physical, sexual, emotional/verbal, economic, or digital actions or threats of actions that influence another person.
Sexual assault is defined as sexual contact without effective consent and includes: intentional touching, either of the victim or when the victim is forced to touch, directly or through clothing, another person’s genitals, breasts, thighs, or buttocks; rape (sexual intercourse without effective consent whether by acquaintance or a stranger); attempted rape; sodomy (oral sex or anal intercourse) without effective consent; or sexual penetration with an object without effective consent. (The legal definition of criminal sexual assault is located in Virginia Code §§ 18.2-61 through -67.10.)
Beginning Fall 2018, E&H CARES will begin offering Bringing in the Bystander(R), a curriculum that emphasizes the prevention and intervention along the continuum of sexual and relationship violence, which may include stalking, cyberstalking, and digital abuse. The program draws connection between the ways proactive bystanding may contribute to lowering the rate of sexual relationship violence.
This project is supported by Grant No. 2016-WA-AX-0016 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.