Risk Reduction Strategies


More than 90% of sexual assaults that occur among college students involve people who know each other, and the majority of these assaults involve the use of alcohol or other drugs.

There are no sure means to prevent sexual assault. However, you can lessen the likelihood that you or your friends will be assaulted or will assault someone. Here are some tips to consider when you go out:

  • Know where you are going and speak up if you are uncomfortable with the plans.
  • Know that drinking and drug use can impair your judgment. You might not be able to make the same decision you would make if you were sober.
  • If you drink, drink responsibly: eat a full meal before going out, have a glass of water between each drink, stick to one type of alcoholic beverage, know your limits and don’t go beyond them.
  • Only drink something that you have poured yourself or that comes in a pre-sealed container. Premixed drinks or a punch can have more alcohol than you might want to drink.
  • Drugs like Rohypnol and GHB (“date rape drugs”) are being dissolved in drinks; don’t drink something that has been left unattended.
  • Don’t go anywhere with someone you don’t know well. If you do leave a party with a new friend, tell the friends you came with where you are going and when you are returning.
  • If someone is in a risky situation let them know; let someone know.


Reduce the Risk of Committing Sexual Assault

  • Listen carefully. Take time to hear what the other person has to say. If you feel s/he is not being direct or is giving you a “mixed message,” ask for clarification.
  • Don’t fall for the bogus slogan “if they say no, they really mean yes.” If your partner says “no” believe them and stop.
  • Remember that sexual assault is a crime. It is never acceptable to force sexual activity, no matter what the circumstances.
  • Be aware that having sex with someone who is mentally or physically incapable of giving consent is sexual assault. If you have sex with someone who is drugged, intoxicated, passed out, or who is mentally or physically unable of saying no or knowing what is going on, you could be committing a crime such as rape.
  • Don’t make assumptions:
    • Don’t assume that someone wants to have sex because of the way they are dressed. Don’t assume someone want to have sex because they drink (or drink too much).
    • Don’t assume someone wants to have sex because they agree to go to your room.
    • Don’t assume that if someone has had sex with you before that they are willing to have sex with you again.
    • Don’t assume that if your partner consents to kissing or other sexual activities, they are consenting to all sexual activities.


Reduce the Risk of Being Sexually Assaulted

  • You have the right to say “NO” to any unwanted sexual contact. If you are uncertain of what you want, communicate your feelings firmly and directly: NO MEANS NO.
  • Don’t be afraid to “make waves” if you feel threatened. If you feel you are being pressured or coerced into sexual activity, don’t hesitate to state your feelings and leave the situation.
  • Attend large parties with friends you trust. Agree to “look out” for one another. Leave with the group, not alone. Avoid leaving with people that you don’t know very well.


If someone you know has been sexually violated


  • Be supportive, listen to them.
  • Share your feelings of concern for them.
  • Communicate to your friend that they are not responsible for the violation.
  • Make sure your friend has a safe place to stay.
  • Allow your friend to regain control by making their own decisions.
  • Make yourself available to accompany your friend to a helping resource (e.g., Hospital, Health Center, Counseling Center).
  • Realize that you too may be affected and seek support if you need it.



  • Attempt to seek revenge.
  • Make jokes.
  • Be angry with your friend.
  • Force them to talk and/or take control from them.
  • Ask your friend how they could “let this happen”.
  • Assume you understand how your friend feels.
  • Discuss the incident with others unless you have permission from your friend.