Sexual Harassment, Assault, and Rape

Sexual assault, violence or harassment of any kind is never the fault of the person who experienced harm. This is true regardless of the circumstances, relationship between those involved, location of incident, and real or perceived cultural differences between the individuals involved. 

Sexual harassment and sexual assault impacts all gender identities worldwide. Cultural and social attitudes towards sexual harassment, assault, and rape can vary widely throughout the world. Being culturally sensitive does NOT mean that you need to submit to or accept behaviors that invade your personal boundaries or that make you feel unsafe or uncomfortable.

Consider this advice before traveling abroad:

  • Learn social norms about personal space, touching, and gender dynamics in your host country 
  • Research and understand the cultural norms, laws and attitudes relating to sex, sexual assault, sexual harassment and rape in your host country 
  • Research and understand the resources at GVSU that are available to support you
  • Find a balance between your independence and your safety that allows you to feel comfortable and in charge
  • Trust your instincts about people and situations. You don't need to be polite if something doesn't feel right
  • Prepare for differences in attitudes and behavior surrounding sexual harassment
  • Read about The Cultural Confusion of Being Sexually Assaulted Abroad
  • Take note of barriers and obstacles facing victims of sexual assault abroad

 

In the event you, or someone you care about, experience sexual harassment or violence while abroad, you are strongly encouraged to seek the support of resources in country and/or through GVSU support services. Seek safety first and contact someone you trust at your host university. 
 
The Women’s Center at GVSU offers a lot of information and resources to students who experience sexual violence. For more information visit: 
http://www.gvsu.edu/vro/
 
If you have experienced sexual harassment or violence, there are options for you on how you would like to proceed.  Options may include seeking medical treatment, contacting a local or international crisis hotline for victims of sexual assault, filing a police report with local authorities, reporting the incident to the U.S. Embassy to request assistance, reporting the incident to the Federal Bureau of Investigation who will in turn work with U.S. and host country representatives to investigate the incident, working with a counselor through the GVSU Counseling Center, contacting Padnos International Center to report the incident, and to ask for assistance in seeking out needed resources.
 

Pathways to Safety International

Pathways to Safety International is an organization providing sexual assault prevention & response regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or location worldwide. No matter where you are in the world.