By Claire Halloran
It does not take physical violence to make someone else feel violated.
This was the main point Aaron Boe made during his “Creating a Culture of Prevention” event hosted by DCCC on April 11 as a part of DCCC’s “It’s On Us Campaign” dedicated to eliminating sexual assault.
Boe is the founder of Prevention Culture, an organization dedicated to promoting healthy relationships and educating college students about how to cultivate a safer environment.
“Our culture does a bad job teaching our young kids, and we need to do better,” Boe said. “We need to update our thinking.”
Boe began the event by highlighting two essentials for creating a successful relationship, the first being to rise above all excuses. Boe insisted that people must accept the reality of responsibility and reflect on the difference between how they feel and how they should deal with a situation.
“It is not up to the other person to make you stop,” Boe said. “It is our responsibility to make sure that others aren’t harmed, and that it is 100 percent wanted… The person who violates is the person responsible.”
Boe stressed that this was essential not only in a sexual relationship, but in daily life. Although some might not realize an action is inappropriate or might make someone uncomfortable, it is up to the individual to read other’s reactions moment-to-moment to ensure they are comfortable, Boe told the audience.
His example was a text message his wife received from a manager, in which the manager complimented her outfit. He meant to compliment her, but did not realize how uncomfortable it made her, according to Boe.
The second key to a successful relationship is to rise above all types of abuse. Abuse includes verbal cruelty, instilling fear into another person, emotional manipulation, and using technology to retaliate or control your partner, Boe explained.
“Technology is used to connect, not control,” Boe said. He noted that sometimes, if your partner demands excessive control over you via technology, it could be an early warning sign for abuse.
He later discussed the need to rise above all pressure or manipulation. Students should do what they think is right and use basic decency to avoid causing a negative experience and cultivate comfort and want, according to Boe.
Boe continued the event by asking audience members to raise their hand if they felt their high school had done a successful job in teaching them sexual education, and not one person raised their hand.
Boe believes improved education is needed to create a culture of prevention, as sheltering is no longer possible in this technology filled time, and being misinformed can cause uncomfortable and awkward encounters.
“We want to prevent all things, not just felonies,” Boe reminded the audience. “We must rise above the selfishness and assumptions, and be a confirmer.”
Boe said that people should want to ask for consent in sexual situations, as mutual care is usually expected.
This is possible by taking a moment to ensure there is reciprocation, mutual enjoyment and care, and both self respect and respect for others.
“There are reasons not to [commit sexual assault] besides getting in trouble,” Boe said. “You should not try to wait for someone else to stop you; that is a bad mentality. It is not up to the other person to make you stop.”
Boe commented on the frequently used slogan of “no means no” with a critique, and told the audience that he prefers the phrase “yes means yes, unless…”, as he believes it more accurately portrays how consent should be given.
According to Boe, yes means yes unless one personally doesn’t want to, one’s conscience tells you it is not right, someone involved is underaged, someone involved is incapacitated, or you are unsure how drunk someone involved is.
He also noted that it is important to realize that these tips include people and partners across all genders and sexualities.
At the end of the event, Boe opened the floor for any comments or questions, and one male DCCC student took the opportunity to express his opposition to a comment Boe had made about victims of sexual assault.
Boe stated that if a victim is passed out or incapacitated, being sexually violated is in no way her fault, and emphasized that only the attacker is to blame.
The DCCC student opposed this, saying he disagreed, as he believed it is not other people’s responsibility to take care of someone because she is drunk.
To dispel this concept, Boe asked the student to imagine the victim had a twenty dollar bill in their pocket, and that someone took the money from them in her incapacitated state.
“What would you call that person?” Boe asked. Everyone in the audience responded “a thief” without hesitating.
Boe pointed out that it is clear to society that someone who steals money is a thief, so society should regard an attacker who commits sexual assault with the same absolute blame that they place on a thief.
The Career and Counseling Center is currently looking for students who are interested in getting involved to plan upcoming events to promote education about sexual assault. If interested, please visit the Career and Counseling Center.
Contact Claire Halloran at firstname.lastname@example.org