Consent is needed in every kind of sexual activity. Without consent, any sexual act is sexual violence. USC’s policy states that consent is a clear, conscious, willing, and affirmative agreement to engage in sexual activity.
A person who is incapacitated for any reason is not capable of giving consent.
Prior consent does not guarantee future consent.
The style of a person’s clothing does not express consent.
Silence or the absence of a “no” does not mean there is consent.
An unconscious person cannot consent.
Consent for one sexual act does not imply consent for other sexual acts.
Consent can be withdrawn at any time.
What Consent Looks Like
Checking in throughout
Discussing what you are/are not comfortable doing
Talking about safer sex methods
Actively making choices together
What Consent Sounds Like
“Is this okay?” “Yes”
“I want to…” “That sounds great”
“May I…?” “Let’s do that more”
“I’d like to…would you?” “Keep doing this”
“How are you?” “I’m enjoying this”
“Do you want to go any further?” “Would you please…?”
It is important to remember that everyone’s communication style, including verbal and non-verbal consent, may be different. There are many ways to ask and give consent as well as communicate non-consent. If you are not sure that you are getting a clear, affirmative yes from your partner, it is your responsibility to ask.
For more information regarding consent and university policy, please click here.
There are many types of relationships and ways of being in a relationship. There are many qualities and values that we look for and seek in our relationships with others. Below are characteristics of healthy relationships that can apply to all types of relationships.
Characteristics of Healthy Relationships http://youth.gov
- Mutual respect. Respect means that each person values who the other is and understands the other person’s boundaries.
- Trust. Partners should place trust in each other and give each other the benefit of the doubt.
- Honesty. Honesty builds trust and strengthens the relationship.
- Compromise. In a dating relationship, each partner does not always get his or her way. Each should acknowledge different points of view and be willing to give and take.
- Individuality. Neither partner should have to compromise who he/she is, and his/her identity should not be based on a partner’s. Each should continue seeing his or her friends and doing the things he/she loves. Each should be supportive of his/her partner wanting to pursue new hobbies or make new friends.
- Good communication. Each partner should speak honestly and openly to avoid miscommunication. If one person needs to sort out his or her feelings first, the other partner should respect those wishes and wait until he or she is ready to talk.
- Anger control. We all get angry, but how we express it can affect our relationships with others. Anger can be handled in healthy ways such as taking a deep breath, counting to ten, or talking it out.
- Fighting fair. Everyone argues at some point, but those who are fair, stick to the subject, and avoid insults are more likely to come up with a possible solution. Partners should take a short break away from each other if the discussion gets too heated.
- Problem solving. Dating partners can learn to solve problems and identify new solutions by breaking a problem into small parts or by talking through the situation.
- Understanding. Each partner should take time to understand what the other might be feeling.
- Self-confidence. When dating partners have confidence in themselves, it can help their relationships with others. It shows that they are calm and comfortable enough to allow others to express their opinions without forcing their own opinions on them.
- Being a role model. By embodying what respect means, partners can inspire each other, friends, and family to also behave in a respectful way.
- Healthy sexual relationship. Dating partners engage in a sexual relationship that both are comfortable with, and neither partner feels pressured or forced to engage in sexual activity that is outside his or her comfort zone or without consent.
Characteristics of Unhealthy Relationships http://youth.gov
- Control. One dating partner makes all the decisions and tells the other what to do, what to wear, or who to spend time with. He or she is unreasonably jealous, and/or tries to isolate the other partner from his or her friends and family.
- Hostility. One dating partner picks a fight with or antagonizes the other dating partner. This may lead to one dating partner changing his or her behavior in order to avoid upsetting the other.
- Dishonesty. One dating partner lies to or keeps information from the other. One dating partner steals from the other.
- Disrespect. One dating partner makes fun of the opinions and interests of the other partner or destroys something that belongs to the partner.
- Dependence. One dating partner feels that he or she “cannot live without” the other. He or she may threaten to do something drastic if the relationship ends.
- Intimidation. One dating partner tries to control aspects of the other's life by making the other partner fearful or timid. One dating partner may attempt to keep his or her partner from friends and family or threaten violence or a break-up.
- Physical violence. One partner uses force to get his or her way (such as hitting, slapping, grabbing, or shoving).
- Sexual violence. One dating partner pressures or forces the other into sexual activity against his or her will or without consent.
Take HEART in Your Relationships
HONESTY: Are my partner and I honest in our communications with each other? Can we talk freely together? Do we know what is important to each other?
EMPOWERMENT: Are my partner and I knowledgeable and understanding of each other’s needs? Do we encourage each other? Do we recognize we each have our own life outside of our relationship?
ATTRACTION: Do we want to be in our relationship? What traits do we value the most in each other? Do we promote confidence in each other? Do we have fun together? Can we both be ourselves when we are together?
RESPECT: Are we respectful of each other’s boundaries? Do we care about each other? Do we respect each other’s beliefs, values, opinions, ideas, etc.? Do we respect each other’s safety?
TRUST: Do we trust each other? Are we comfortable sharing with each other?
Laws & Policies
Federal legislation and university policy prohibit discrimination, harassment and sexual violence and describe the ways in which USC will prevent, report, and respond to interpersonal violence.
For more information regarding federal legislation and university policies regarding interpersonal violence, please click here.
In the event of an emergency or if you are in imminent danger, call 911 immediately.
Create a Safety Plan
If you are experiencing interpersonal violence, you should create a safety plan. For an example of a safety plan from http://loveisrespect.org, click here. If you would like help in creating your safety plan, contact SAVIP to connect with an advocate.
Download the RAVE Guardian App
Another resource we have at USC is the RAVE Guardian App. This can be a great resource to include in safety planning. The app is free to students, faculty, and staff and allows users to build a virtual network of friends, family, and campus law enforcement. RAVE Guardian is available for iPhone and Android users. Options on the app include:
- Panic button: direct, immediate connection to USCPD with GPS location and personal profile information
- Tip Texting: enables anonymous, 2-way, crime and concern tip reporting via text messages or photos with USCPD
- Personal Guardians: users can determine who they want to set as “guardians” that can keep up with the status of the user’s location
- Safety Timer: activate a safety timer between your two locations and if you do not deactivate the timer before it expires, USCPD can check in and respond if needed
- Safety Profile: users can provide information regarding residence details and medical conditions which can be shared with USCPD if needed in an emergency
For more information regarding the RAVE Guardian app, please click here.
Annual Security and Fire Safety Report
To view the Annual Security and Fire Safety Report from USC’s Division of Law Enforcement and Safety, please click here.
Self-Care for Survivors
After experiencing any type of interpersonal violence, it is important to take care of yourself. Self-care is about taking steps to feel safe, healthy, and comfortable. Whether your trauma happened recently or in the past, self-care can help you cope with the short-and-long-term effects of interpersonal violence. Self-care is personal and can look different for everyone. If one activity or effort does not work for you, try another. Sometimes it may take time to determine what is best for you.
- Listen to music or a podcast, watch a favorite television show or movie, or read a book. Keep in mind that these activities could be triggering, so be gentle with yourself
- Use creative outlets such as art, music, or writing.
- Cuddle with a blanket, pillow, or pet.
- Call someone you trust to talk about what you are feeling, what happened, or a completely different topic
- Engage in spiritual practice
- Surround yourself with individuals who you trust, feel safe with, and supported by
For Support Networks (Adapted from http://loveisrespect.org)
Peers, friends, colleagues, and family members can help someone experiencing interpersonal violence. Try to remember:
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who you think needs help. Tell them you’re concerned for their safety and want to help. Let them know you are there for them.
- Listen patiently and be supportive. Acknowledge their feelings and be respectful of their decisions.
- Accept what the survivor is telling you. Believe them.
- Avoid judging or offering advice.
- Help the individual recognize that interpersonal violence is not “normal” and is not their fault.
- Focus on the survivor, and not their abuser or perpetrator. It is important they feel comfortable talking to you about it.
- Avoid blaming, belittling comments, making assumptions, or asking too many questions and let the survivor talk.
- Connect them to resources and information in their area. Remember this can include university resources, local community resources, and state and national resources.
- If the survivor wants to discuss resources and options, encourage them to talk to a confidential resource on campus (Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention & Prevention, Student Health Services, Counseling & Psychiatry)
- Empower the survivor to make their own decisions and support those decisions. Leaving or reporting situations can be difficult and even dangerous.
- Seek immediate professional help if the survivor displays any suicidal or self-harming behaviors or if you are concerned about their emotional or physical well-being.
- Help them develop a safety plan.
- Don’t post information about your loved one on social networking sites. Never uses sites to reveal their current location or where they hang out. It’s possible someone else will use your post to find them.
- Remember, healing looks different for every survivor.
- Empower the survivor to reclaim their personal control, space, and privacy.
- Continue to be supportive after experiences of interpersonal violence and after a survivor seeks help and support.
- Seek support for yourself. Remember that resources are here for those who support survivors, too.
For Responsible Employees at USC
For information about how to support survivors, please click here for a conversation guide for responsible university employees. Information regarding reporting obligations for responsible university employees is also included.
Types of Interpersonal Violence
To access policy information regarding sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking, and sexual harassment, please visit http://sc.edu/stopsexualassault
Sexual assault includes any type of sexual touch, act, or activity that happens without consent.
For more information regarding sexual assault and university policy, please click here.
Intimate Partner Violence
Intimate partner violence includes any act of violence or threatened violence against a person who is in a sexual or dating relationship with that individual or previously was. Intimate partner violence may also be referred to as domestic violence, dating violence, or relationship violence.
For more information regarding stalking and university policy, please click here.
Stalking is a pattern of repeated, unwanted attention and contact that causes someone to fear for their own safety or the safety of another person. It can happen in person and through online activity and social media.
For more information regarding stalking and university policy, please click here.
Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
For more information regarding sexual harassment and university policy, please click here.
Harassment includes unsolicited and unwelcome annoying, alarming or abusive contact through verbal, electronic, or other means that create fear or concern in the person receiving the contact.
For more information regarding harassment and university policy, please click here.
Terms to Know
- Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault/Date Rape Drugs
- Emergency Contraception
- Forensic Evidence Exam
- HIV prophylaxis medication
- No contact order
- Victim or Survivor
Signs & Impact of Trauma
- Signs of trauma
- Common reactions
- USC trauma informed process
Interpersonal Violence & Identities
- International Students
- Study Abroad
- People of Color