Sexual Health And Abuse Overview

Short Description

Why should we be concerned about sexual abuse?
Legal liability is a reality in sexual abuse incidents. It is possible that a victim of sexual abuse or rape may be able to sue the perpetrator, even though criminal charges are not filed or are dismissed. The chapter, chapter officers, and others may be sued if an incident of sexual abuse occurs at a chapter function.

Target Audience

Insurance Advisor
Risk Management Chairman
General Membership

Borradaile Challenge or Area of Focus

Risk Management


What is sexual abuse?
In order to understand sexual abuse, we must define both sexual harassment and rape. Sexual harassment is defined as the unwelcome, unreciprocated imposition of sexual attention, usually in the context of a relationship of unequal power. Rape is defined as an act of sexual penetration with a person against his/her will. Both of these actions fall under the definition of sexual abuse.


There are many types of sexual abuse. Recognize that sexually abusive behavior occurs on a continuum ranging from harassment to rape. Sexual abuse usually falls into two categories, verbal and physical.

Verbal abuse may include:

  1. Whistling
  2. Humor and jokes about sex or male or female specific traits
  3. Suggestive or insulting sounds
  4. Sexual innuendos about your or someone else’s personal appearance
  5. Sexual innuendos about your or someone else’s sexual activities
  6. Demands for sexual favors accompanied by implied or overt threats
  • Physical Abuse may include:
  1. Obscene gestures
  2. Staring suggestively
  3. Any inappropriate touching, pinching, or patting
  4. Brushing against someone else’s body
  5. Coerced sexual intercourse
  6. Assault

Why does sexual abuse occur?

Although there is not one direct cause for sexually abusive behavior, there are some factors that help build an environment conducive to sexual abuse. Factors such as gender role stereotyping-what our society says is “feminine” and “masculine”- are part of the problem leading to rape and sexual harassment. Games with little or no rules, such as “house.” Unlike males, females are discouraged from experimenting with their sexuality. The double standard sex prevails.

This social environment that encourages males to be aggressive and females to be passive is ripe for sexual abuse. Sexual harassment and rape are issues of power abuse. If we can understand how gender role stereotyping often leads to power imbalances, we can better understand how the phenomenon of sexual abuse happens in our society.

What can you do as an individual to minimize sexual abuse?

  • Understand that you are responsible for your own actions as individuals and as a member of a group.
  • Understand your own sexuality and be aware of social pressures.
  • Don’t assume that previous permission for sexual activity applies to the current situation.
  • Don’t assume that just because someone dresses in a “sexy” manner and flirts that she/he wants to engage in sexual activity. However, know these actions may be misinterpreted.
  • Don’t get into a vulnerable situation with someone you don’t know or trust.
  • Don’t participate in or allow “little rapes” to happen. Verbal harassment of women, whistles, snide comments and stares are all assaults on any women’s sense of well being. The underlying intention is to intimidate the women.
  • Take an equal role in your relationship with the opposite sex.
  • Reject sexual stereotypes that define women as passive, weak, and irrational, and men as aggressive, macho and dominating.
  • Avoid excessive use of alcohol and other drugs that will impair your judgment and interfere with effective communications.
  • Don’t rape. Sexual intimacy is a free exchange between free people. Intimidation, coercion and force have no place in love-making.

What can we do as a group to prevent sexual abuse?

  • Review chapter and system “traditions” and eliminate sexist, degrading practices that signal to members that it is OK to demean and not respect others.
  • Host educational programs for your chapter. Hold a program on Human Sexuality. Hold another program on alcohol and other drugs. Aggressively address problems of substance abuse that lead to other problems.
  • Invite a campus counselor to conduct a program on male-female relationships and assertiveness communication.
  • Take a leadership role in the Greek system to condemn sexual harassment and abuse and to promote a safe environment for all.

What can you do if you or someone you know has been sexually harassed?

  • Stand up to the harasser. If you are in a situation that doesn’t feel right, let your harasser know that you feel uncomfortable. Tell him that you do not like what he is doing.
  • Keep written details of each incident. It is important to record date, place, time, and the type of harassment and your response to that harassment.
  • Seek out support from friends with whom you can share your concerns.
  • Explore your options to file a formal complaint with the university. Most universities have a set procedure to be followed concerning sexual harassment complaints.

What can you do if you or someone you know has been raped?

  • Contact a close friend or relative with whom you would feel comfortable telling.
  • If a friend tells you that she has been raped, believe her. False alarms are extremely rare. It is important to listen to her and then encourage her to call a crisis center, contact the police and receive medical treatment.
  • Call a rape-crisis center or rape-crisis hotline. Rape-crisis centers are staffed with professional counselors who will help you begin to sort through your feelings. Counselors are available 24 hours a day and all calls are confidential.
  • Contact the police. By contacting the police, you will have some flexibility in your legal options. You may or may not decide to prosecute. But if you do, the necessary evidence will have been collected. Confidentiality is also observed by the police.
  • Get medical treatment. It is important that you receive medical treatment for several reasons. First, you may or may not to decide to prosecute. But if you do, evidence will have been collected by medical personnel. Although you may feel very dirty, do not brush your teeth, urinate, or take a shower before receiving medical treatment. It treats crucial evidence. Secondly, seeking medical help will help prevent any possible consequences of rape such as sexually transmitted diseases or even pregnancy.

What can you do if someone in your chapter has been accused of rape?

  • The president of the chapter is the spokesperson for the fraternity. He is responsible in an emergency situation and must make all necessary phone calls and important decisions.
  • The president should contact his advisor and inform him of the situation.
  • The president should then contact the Executive Offices and Board of Governors and inform him of the situation. They will be able to give you guidance regarding the next step.
  • The president should then contact the Greek advisor and inform him/her of the situation.
  • Only the president and his advisor should make comments to the media regarding this situation. Do not feel as though you must give the media an answer. It is all right to tell them that you may call when you receive any additional information.
  • Advise the accused member of the chapter to seek legal advice.

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