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Preventing Rape on Campus through Better Consent

Rape accusations on college campuses have increased dramatically over the past few years. In many ways, this is a good thing. More victims feel as though they will be listened to by law enforcement and the shame of being a victim is slowly decreasing. We are transitioning from “no means no” to “yes means yes.”

Unfortunately, the yes means yes standard for sexual consent is creating a lot of confusion, both legally and among young people at college. A large number of rape cases fall in the murky place where one person believes that the sex was consensual, but later that day or the next, other does not. With these standards, the reality is that consent is tricky to ensure. After all, where is the line? Do both parties have to get consent for every act right up through sex? Legally, speaking, the answer could be yes, which makes many hook-ups that start consensually can become rape without a person realizing that they are potentially breaking anyone’s boundaries. In fact, sometimes the thought will not occur to either party until long after the fact, leading the accusation to take the accused totally by surprise.

Many young college men accused of rape counter that the accusations stem from “buyer’s remorse” when a drunken hook-up fails to lead to a relationship. When drunken intercourse without any discussion of boundaries or expectations disappoints one party, there can be a breakdown in the relationship, unfulfilled expectations, and even life-altering rape accusations.

Four Common Sense Rules for Getting Consent

While clearly accusations must be taken seriously, even unfounded rape accusations can ruin a student’s life. Therefore, getting proper consent is in everyone’s best interests. Not only does ensuring affirmative consent help you prevent being charged with rape for a sexual encounter that you believed to be consensual, it also helps protect whatever relationship you and your partner will have in the future, even if your friendship sours.

These four rules for consent can be helpful in protecting against unclear sexual expectations, as well as rape accusations.

  1. Never have sex when you are—or your potential partner is—drunk. Many people accused of rape find themselves shocked that they can be held responsible for actions that they made while very drunk. You don’t want to take advantage of someone else while they are drunk, just like you don’t want to take something farther than you would have otherwise while you were drunk. Intoxication makes consent less clear for both parties, so although it may be what you both want, it’s best to avoid sex while drunk.

  2. Get an accountability partner for drinking. Our judgment is compromised when we drink, which means that we can make bad decisions. It may be tempting to have sex with someone when drunk, despite knowing that it can cause problems. That’s why having a sober friend look out for you to remind you that sex is a bad idea can help.

  3. Get a record of consent. It may not seem sexy, but getting proof of consent protects both you and your partner from later confusion. That’s why several apps have recently been developed that allow you to both record your intention to have sex consensually by signing a contract or recording a video. Even simply having each other text that you are about to have sex and that you are excited about it can help show the reality of a person’s feelings at the time, even if they change later.

  4. Set realistic expectations. In today’s hook-up culture, it is not uncommon for one person to be more invested in starting a relationship after sex than another. Still, this confusion can lead to tensions, hurt feelings, and regrets about sexual encounters. By ensuring that you set realistic expectations about what sex means to you before you have intercourse (whether you plan for a casual one-time thing or a relationship), you can better ensure that sexual consent is based in reality. It’s better to miss out on having sex than to learn that you partner regrets the act later.

These rules for consent will hopefully protect you and your partner from any pain or trouble caused by unclear sexual consent.

Even when proceeding with the best of intentions, some college students find themselves accused of rape on campus. If you believe you have been falsely accused of rape in an on campus proceeding or to law enforcement, you should contact an attorney right away. If you don’t take these accusations seriously, they can quickly lead to your expulsion or even imprisonment. Call the experienced sex crimes attorneys at Roanoke Criminal Defense right away at (540) 343-9349 for a free consultation on your case. We will do everything we can to fight for your rights and clear your name.