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Sexual harassment, including its most extreme form of sexual assault, is prohibited in all its forms at Curry College. As a community, we must strive to prevent and respond to sexual harassment and assault, because these incidents affect all members of our community. These incidents can happen to anyone, regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation, or any other identity.  These incidents harm not only the person who experiences them, but also friends, family, and other community members.

This section of our website provides information on definitions, the range of reactions often experienced after a sexual assault incident, ways to reduce risk around sexual assault and harassment, and why this issue is important at Curry College. 

Other areas of this website address resources (including confidential resources), intimate partner violence, stalking, and reporting incidents. While this web space offers specialized information and resources on these behaviors, we know, that sexual harassment/assault, intimate partner violence, and stalking often occur together. Because all of these behaviors may occur within one relationship, we encourage you to browse the website thoroughly and use whatever resources and information seem most appropriate to a particular situation. 

Anyone with questions about these issues is encouraged to contact confidential resources, found here, or Curry College's Title IX Coordinator.

The definitions provided here reflect those in the Curry College Student Handbook. Different definitions may apply for law enforcement purposes, in different jurisdictions, and at other colleges and universities.

Sexual Harassment 

Curry College strictly forbids sexual harassment. Sexual Harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature. 

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment for a Curry student when: 

(a) submission to such advances, requests or conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of the individual's academic advancement, participation in College programs or activities, or is used as a basis for academic decisions affecting the individual; 
(b) rejection of such advances, requests or conduct affects a term or condition of the individual's academic advancement, participation in College programs or activities, or is used as a basis for academic decisions affecting the individual; or 
(c) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with the individual's academic performance, education, or participation in College programs or activities, or of creating an intimidating or hostile work or academic environment. 

Examples of sexual harassment may include, but are not limited to:

  • Repeated offensive sexual flirtations, advances, or propositions which are offensive;
  • Verbal abuse or innuendo of a sexual nature which is continued or repeated;
  • Physical contact such as touching, hugging, patting, or pinching which is uninvited and unwanted by the other person;
  • Offensive verbal comments of a sexual nature about an individual's body or sexual terms used to describe an individual;
  • An open display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures if people find them offensive;
  • Jokes or remarks of a sexual nature if people find them offensive;
  • Unwanted prolonged and apparent staring or leering at a person.

Sexual Misconduct 

Curry College strictly prohibits sexual violence and all other forms of sexual misconduct. 

Sexual Misconduct includes any sexual contact or activity that occurs without the effective consent of any individual involved. It is the obligation of every person to obtain effective consent from the other person prior to sexual contact. Effective Consent is discussed in the section below. 

Examples of sexual misconduct include, but are not limited to:

  • Touching another's genitals/breasts without consent;
  • Having sexual contact with someone who is incapacitated (e.g. from alcohol or drug usage) such that their decision-making ability is compromised so that they are unable to consent;
  • Continuing sexual activity after either party has made it clear, either verbally or by conduct, that they do not wish to continue physical contact;
  • Obscene or indecent behavior, including exposure of one's sexual organs or the display of offensive sexual behavior;
  • Deliberate observation of others for sexual purposes without their consent;
  • Taking or posting of photographs/images of a sexual nature without consent;
  • Possession or distribution of illegal pornography.

Effective Consent

Effective consent is informed, knowing and voluntary. The College defines effective consent as mutually understandable words or actions which indicate willingness to participate in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. 

Effective Consent cannot be given by minors (in Massachusetts, those not yet sixteen (16) years of age). 

Effective Consent cannot be given by individuals who have a mental disability that results in their being unable to provide informed, knowing and voluntary consent. 

Effective Consent cannot be given by those who are unconscious, unaware or otherwise physically helpless. 

Consent obtained as a result of physical force, threats, intimidating behavior, duress or coercion is not Effective Consent. 

A person who knows or should reasonably have known that another person is incapacitated may not engage in sexual activity with that person, and there can be no Effective Consent in such situations. 

Effective Consent cannot be given by those who are incapacitated as a result of alcohol or other drug consumption (voluntary or involuntary). In addition, incapacitation may result from mental disability, sleep, or involuntary physical restraint, and there can be no Effective Consent in such situations. 

The College defines incapacitation as a state where an individual cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because the individual lacks the capacity to give knowing consent, and/or as a state where one cannot make a rational, reasonable decision because the individual lacks the ability to understand the who, what, when, where, why, or how of their sexual interaction. 

Consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms. 

Consent may be given for specific sexual activities and not for others. 

Consent at one time, including prior intimate partner or physical relationships, does not imply future consent. 

Silence does not constitute consent and may indicate that something is wrong and the potential for sexual misconduct exists. 

The use of alcohol or other drugs does not constitute a defense for the failure of a person who initiates sexual activity to obtain effective consent.

People who experience sexual assault have a wide variety of reactions. Someone may identify as a victim-survivor and react in very unexpected ways. Victims-survivors and their friends and family should know that there is no "right" reaction.  

The reactions below are some of the experiences a victim-survivor may have after an assault.  In all cases, it's important to support the person identifying as a victim-survivor and help them connect to resources.

After a sexual assault, the victim-survivor may experience the following*:

  • Shock
  • Denial 
  • Laughter or joking about the incident
  • Fear/Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Withdrawl
  • Shame/Guilt
  • Distrust of others
  • Emotional detachment
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Flashbacks to the assault
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Avoiding sex or engaging in risky sexual behavior
  • Increased substance use
  • Unhealthy eating habits
  • Failing to engage in normal healthy behaviors (example: seatbelt use)

If you or someone you know is experiencing these reactions, don't hesitate to contact confidential resources to discuss your concerns.

*This information has been adapted from the Centers for Disease Control.

When we talk about sexual assault, sexual harassment, intimate partner violence, and stalking, it's important to be clear that the responsibility for these acts lies clearly with those who commit them. Nothing that any victim-survivor or bystander does ever tips the balance away from that fact. As our community strives to prevent and respond to violence, however, it's important to focus on the things that we can all do to keep ourselves and others safe.*

The information on this page is focused on staying safe during in-person encounters. Read more about increasing safety online.

In Our Community**:

Whether or not you see an assault in progress, every member of our community can help reduce risk by being an engaged bystander.

  • When you hear comments that trivialize rape, sexual assault, and other forms of sexual misconduct, intervene and explain that these topics should never be treated lightly.  Explain that victim-survivors may hear such jokes as making fun of their trauma and that those who might perpetrate sexual misconduct may hear such jokes as acceptance of sexual misconduct in our community.
  • Pay attention to messages in pop culture and other media.  Consider how these messages impact women, LGBTQ people, people of color, and others who are disproportionately affected by sexual misconduct.
  • Remember that statistics indicate that in any room, victim-survivors are likely to be present. As a community, we should discuss these important issues, and we should do it with care for everyone present.

Learn more about how to intervene to stop sexual misconduct in progress.

 For Partners+

  • Show your potential partner respect if you initiate sexual behavior. If a potential partner is not providing effective consent, accept it and don't push.
  • Clearly communicate your intentions to your potential sexual partner, and give them a chance to share their intentions and/or boundaries with you.
  • Communicate when you change sexual activity by asking, "Is X okay?" or something similar.
  • Respect personal boundaries. If you are unsure what's OK in any interaction, ask. Don't make assumptions about consent. If you have questions or are unclear, assume you don't have consent.
  • Don't take advantage of the fact that someone may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, even if that person chose to become that way. Others' loss of control does not put you in control.

To Reduce Your Own Risk++

  • Make arrangements to travel with friends to reduce vulnerability.
  • Use others around you, including friends, family, or police. They may be waiting for a signal that you would like help.
  • Trust your intuition,, and don't hesitate to call for help or leave if you're feeling uneasy.
  • Communicate as clearly as possible about which activities are comfortable for you and which are not.
  • Alcohol and other drugs can impair your ability to understand what is occurring. In the context of sexual assault, this means that alcohol may make it easier for a perpetrator to commit a crime and can even prevent someone from remembering that the assault occurred. Using alcohol and drugs does not cause sexual assault, stalking, or intimate partner violence, but moderating your use can help you quickly respond to reduce your risk and improve your safety.

If Someone is Pressuring You to Engage in Sexual Activity*

If someone is pressuring you to engage in sexual activity, it may be uncomfortable or frightening. Perpetrators often use this tactic. It is not your fault the other person is doing this.  Here are some tips for exiting that situation safely.

  • Remind yourself this is not your fault.
  • Trust your gut.  It doesn't matter why you don't want to do something.  If you are not interested, that is reason enough.
  • Consider developing a code word with friends or family.  It could be something as simple as, "I would rather have lemonade than iced tea."  This can tell people who care about you that you want help getting away from someone.
  • If lying will help you leave, it's okay to lie. You can say that someone is expecting you or that you don't feel well or that you need to go to the bathroom.  Staying safe is more important than being honest with someone who is pressuring you.
  • Think of a way out. Look for windows, doors, or people to help you safely leave a space.

*Adapted from the University of New Hampshire's Bringing in the Bystander website. 
**Portions of this list are adapted from Men Can Stop Rape
‡Adapted from University of New Hampshire's Bringing in the Bystander website, the CDCATIXA, and RAINN.org
†Adapted from ATIXA.
♦Adapted from RAINN.org.

With all the exciting and wonderful opportunities at Curry College, people might ask why we focus on sexual assault and harassment. For all colleges and universities, this is an important issue.  Here are a few of the reasons why it's important to us at Curry College:

  • Comprehensive national data indicates that over 20% of undergraduate women, over 5% of undergraduate men, and over 20% of gender non-conforming students will experience non-consensual sexual contact involving force or incapacitation during their time in college*. 
  • Victim-survivors of sexual assault and harassment often experience negative mental and physical health effects. These effects can make school and work more difficult.  We want Curry College to be a community where everyone experiences their best chance for success.
  • Sexual assault and harassment affect not only those who directly experience these incidents, but also their friends and family.
  • The federal law Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex and gender for all schools receiving federal funding, which includes Curry College.  This means we are obligated to prevent and respond to sexual assault and harassment, which can negatively impact access to education based on sex and gender.

*This data is drawn from the 2015 AAU Campus Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct.