Prevention Education and StepUP
It is the responsibility of everyone in the Columbia community to help create and build a consent-based community on campus where sexual violence is NOT tolerated.
What is Sexual Consent?
Consent is permission for something to happen. Sexual consent is an affirmative, unambiguous, and conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity.
- An active process of willingly and freely choosing to participate in sex of any kind with another person(s).
- It is an ongoing conversation about what everyone wants, what everyone feels like doing and what everyone is comfortable with.
- Consent is required regardless of the parties' current or past relationship, prior sexual history, or current sexual activity.
- Healthy sexual connections are all about consent and mutual respect.
Essential Components of Consent
- Clear Expectations
- Clear Intentions
- Consent is Ongoing
- Consent can be withdrawn at any time
Sexual partners should know where they stand with one another.
- What is the nature of the relationship?
- Is it a one-time thing, friends with benefits, or a long-term relationship?
The more partners can check in with each other about they want, the easier it is to declare their intentions and what they will and will not consent to.
- Is the plan to hang out and watch a movie, make out, or have sex?
- How far are you and your partner comfortable taking the sexual encounter?
Consent is Ongoing
Consent is ongoing, a constant dialogue, and a shared responsibility
- You must always get consent when you are being sexually active with someone AND as your sexual behaviors get more and more intimate.
- Consent to one sexual act is not consent to another AND just because you had sex or did certain sexual activities in the past does not mean you always have consent for those activities.
Consent can be withdrawn at any time
There is no “point of no return”
- If someone wants to stop a sexual encounter, no matter what is currently happening or what has happened, the interaction must stop immediately.
- Silence is not consent
- A lack of a "NO" does not mean "YES."
Communicating Enthusiastic Consent
When there is a question or invitation about sex of any kind; consent is mutually given, is ongoing, and the answer on everyone's part is an ENTHUSIASTIC YES.
How do I ask for consent?
Consent is not just about getting a “yes” or “no” answer, but also understanding what a partner is feeling and experiencing. Ask open-ended questions. Listen to and respect your partner’s response, whether you hear “yes” or “no.”
- Do you want to __?
- How does this feel?
- Are you comfortable with this?
- Can I take off your shirt?
- How far do you want to go?
- Do you like it when I __?
How do I give consent?
We should feel empowered, respected and comfortable in our sexual relationships all the time. For some people, consent can be awkward at times, but you can turn the awkward into fun. The good news is, the more we practice, the better we get at it!
- Keep going.
- That feels so good.
- I really like it when you do that.
- Don't stop!
Gauging consent is an important part of a healthy, communicative relationship. We need to make open lines of communication and consent a standard normal part of any sexual activities.
StepUP is a National pro-social bystander intervention strategy that we implement campus-wide at Columbia to engage students to teach safe effective ways to intervene in situations of sexual violence, intimate partner violence, stalking, and harassment. Request a StepUP workshop or training to learn more.
What is a Prosocial Bystander?
Prosocial Bystanders are individuals who intervene in emergencies, criminal events, or violent situations, in ways that positively impact the outcome.
5-Step Decision Making Model
These are steps you can take to safely and effectively intervene.
- Notice the event
- Interpret it as a problem
- Assume personal responsibility
- Know how to help
- Step UP! - Intervene safely and effectively
S.E.E. Model Tips:
- (S)afe Responding - Never put yourself in harm's way but talk to someone, make a phone call (911 if ncecessary) and/or engage others
- (E)arly Intervention - Intervene early before the problem becomes a crisis disaster.
- (E)ffective Helping - Know what to do and how to do it. Remember the Law of Delivery:
- Who (person/s)
- What (content)
- When (timing)
- Where (location/privacy)
- Why (reasons)
- How (tone)
Emergency situations unfold quickly and often require immediate helping responses.
- Stay calm
- Gather info
- Consider options - direct and/or indirect ways of intervening
- Provide support but do not become enmeshed
- Call 9-1-1 if it is not prudent for you to help directly
Non-emergency situations unfold more slowly and allow more careful planning of a helpful response.
- Consider direct and indirect ways of intervening
- Consider frequency, duration and severity
- Define the problem and the barriers
- Determine the goal; Develop a game plan
- Set boundaries – don’t enable
- Maintain respect
- Consider options; Know resources and referrals
It is everyone’s responsibility as a member of the Columbia community to look out for each other. We all have the ability to StepUP and intervene in any situation that we perceive as non-consensual, aggressive, or that could lead to violence of any kind. We have the power and the numbers behind us to do it. So StepUP, be the first, and know that you can make a difference!
- Talk to your friends, roommates and family
- Request more information by contacting Sexual Violence Response at (212) 854-HELP.
- Request an educational workshop or training.
- Host your own event: You may request a grant from SVR or Columbia Health, if events meet department guidelines.