Samford University

Samford University

Prevention, Education and Outreach

The Student Services, Public Safety, Counseling Services and Human Resources offices develop and contribute to a wide range of programs and events designed to increase awareness about violence against persons. Programs are designed to promote healthy relationships and to provide educations about behaviors that enable relationship violence. 

Programs offered by these offices included, but are limited to: 

Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Assault
Healthy Relationships
Self Defense and Personal Safety
Understanding Sexual Consent

The programs are structured to meet the needs of specific audiences and can be presented upon request. Presentations are intended to encourage audience participation and critical thinking about behaviors associated with relationship violence, as well as providing education about prevention and personal safety. 

Common myths about sexual assault

Most rapists are strangers: Research statistics suggests more than 75% of victims of sexual assaults know their assailant. 

If victims do not fight back, they were not raped:  A number of circumstances could result in a victim not fighting back an assailant during an assault. In some instances, the assailant may use a drug or the element of fear to prevent the victim from using physical force against the assailant. The simple truth is that intentional sexual contact without consent of the other person constitutes sexual assault, regardless if the victim fights back or not. 

Rape requires the use of a weapon: According to the United States Department of Justice, 80% of rapes and sexual assaults incidents do not involve a weapon.

Men cannot be raped: According to national rape statistics 1 out of 33 men will be a victim of rape or sexual assault in their lifetime.

Perpetrators of rape are arrested and jailed after the assault: Research data suggest less than 40% of rapes and sexual assaults are reported.

You were sexually assaulted because you were drinking: Alcohol is a weapon that some perpetrators use to control their victims and render them helpless. As part of their plan, an assailant may encourage a potential victim to use alcohol, or they may identify a person who is already drunk to victimize. Alcohol is not a cause of rape; it is only one of many tools that perpetrators of rape use to control their victims.

When a partner says no, they really mean yes: When a person says yes to sex, they are giving consent. Silence does not mean consent, nor does a victim giving into sex after being subjected to consistent begging or pleading mean consent. Unrelenting pleading or begging for sex is consistent with coercion. If your partner says no or seems unsure, respect that person and their wishes.

Prevention

While there are no absolute ways to protect yourself from being the victim of a sexual assault, there are some cautionary things you can do to protect yourself from being assaulted. 

  • Be aware of your surroundings. It is important to know where you are and who is around you who may be able to assist if you are caught in a bad situation.
  • Don’t let yourself be isolated with someone you don’t trust or someone you don’t know.
  • Trust your instincts; if you feel uncomfortable in a situation, leave immediately.
  • Don’t allow someone else to talk you into a staying in a situation or participating in an act or activities that you do not agree with.
  • Make sure your cell phone is with you and charged. Make sure you have enough money for a cab fare.
  • When you go to social gatherings, go with a group. Arrive together, check with each other throughout the event, and make sure you all leave together.
  • You are encouraged to refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages, but if you must drink be mindful of the following:
    • Never leave your drink unattended; if you should leave your drink, pour it out and get a new one.
    • Do not accept a drink from people you do not know and trust. If you choose to accept a drink from someone at a bar, watch the drink being poured and carried to you. At parties, do not drink from punch bowls or open containers. Do not accept an open beer or drink from someone you do not absolutely trust.
    • Watch out for your friends and vice versa. If your friend seems out of control or intoxicated, get him or her to a safe place immediately. Do not allow them to be separated from you.

Personal Intervention

  • If you see something that does not appear to be right, while protecting your safety and well being, evaluate the situation and consider stepping in and asking questions. Ask the person if they need help; ask them do they feel safe; or if they want your assistance. If you feel something is wrong and you do not feel safe about intervening, call the police.  
  • If you observe someone doing behavior that you do not approve, tell the person that you do not approve of what he/she is doing. Ask him or her to leave the potential victim alone.
  • While the majority of men do not commit sexual assault acts, research indicate men are more likely to commit a sexual assault than women. Men can be instrument in the prevention of sexual assault and violence by speaking out about such acts and being a ally to those who may be susceptible to acts of violence.
  • Become knowledgeable about the issues of violence against persons and share your knowledge with your friends and others.

Bystander Intervention

Bystanders play a critical role in the prevention of relationship violence. Bystanders are often the largest group of people involved in acts of relationship violence. Webster dictionary defines bystander as "one who is present, but not taking part in a situation or event; a chance spectator." In terms of relationship violence, a bystander can be 1) a person who may be aware that an assault is occurring or a person who has knowledge that an assault will happen, 2) a person who observes an assault or one who witness potential assault, or 3) a person that has information that an assault has already happened. The phrase bystander intervention indicate that by engaging ever so slightly in a situation, a bystander may be able to prevent a potential assault or he/she may be able to assist a victim by getting them help. 

Bystander intervention techniques:

  • Watch out for your friends and other students: If you see your friend doing or saying something inappropriate, be a true friend and tell him to stop. Let your friend know the behavior you are witnessing is not right. Additionally, if you see someone who appears to be in trouble say something; ask them if they are okay. 
  • Speak up and speak out; If you hear or see someone doing something that is not right, let them know that you believe their behavior is wrong. Let them know if they do not stop, you will call or report them to the authorities. Do not laugh at racist, sexist, or homophobic jokes. Challenge your friends and acquaintances to be respectful of differences and people. 
  • Be respectful; You should model the behavior you know is right for your friends and acquaintances. The behavior you model in your relationship can be a great guide for your friends to follow. 
  • Create a distraction; If you witness a friend harassing another person, intervene by asking your friend a question: Ask your friend to accompany you to a different location. If it is a stranger intervention, from a distance ask the individual for directions or for the time. The goal of distraction is to provide the victim time to move away and to provide the abuser a chance to refocus his/her thoughts. 
  • Silent stare; Sometimes the most powerful action a person can take is to provide a disapproving stare. The use of the stare provides the perpetrator an understanding they are being watched and that their behavior is seen by another. 
  • Getting help; Victims of violence often are confused and incapable of making rational decisions after an assault. A bystander can assist a victim by reassuring and staying with a victim until professional assistance is provided. Additionally, the bystander should be willing to get the victim help. 
  • Do Something; While being aware of your safety and not putting yourself in harm’s way, bystanders should do something to prevent an act of interpersonal violence.