As you are probably well aware, BYU is reviewing its policies related to sexual assault victims and Honor Code violations. One proposal which seems to have a good bit of currency–especially since it appears to be the norm at other schools, including SVU, which have similar Honor Codes–is an “amnesty” for offenses which might have been committed in the context of the sexual assault. The motive here is to remove the disincentive for victims not to report assaults–or for assailants to assault Honor Code scofflaws because they are well aware that their victim is less likely to report the assault in that case.
Of course, this policy incentivizes Honor Code violators to claim that they were sexually assaulted in order to gain immunity from the consequences of their Honor Code violations in cases where sexual activity was consensual–or perhaps when no sexual activity whatsoever actually occurred.
I am a mother of three boys, so of course the prospect of them being assaulted with false accusations hits close to home. Here are some things that we can begin teaching our boys to prepare them to live in a world where their purity is constantly threatened by predators:
- Follow the Honor Code with exact obedience. They would avoid virtually all circumstances where they might be assaulted with false accusations if they do so.
- Do not walk alone at night. They should always be sure to go with a group after dark (to the library, to and from work, etc.). It is entirely possible that a woman could jump out of the bushes and assault them with false accusations any time they are alone at night and they would be completely defenseless. There is safety in numbers.
- Even during the day, isolated places are best avoided (this would include hiking trails, empty hallways, laundry rooms, etc.). There are parts of campus and parts of the city which they should consider off-limits to them if they want to protect their virtue.
- Avoid suspicious-looking women: for example, by not getting into elevators with them.
- Dating requires extra caution. They should only date women they already know really well. They should avoid being alone with their dates.
- Always be hyper-aware of their surroundings: for example, if they break the rules by walking alone through a parking lot after dark, they should scan to see if any women are walking toward them or loitering by their cars, particularly if the women are in a group.
- Be sure to always, always, always lock car doors, keep home windows shut and locked, etc., so women can’t sneak in and assault them with false charges.
- Avoid being alone with members of the opposite sex, particularly those who are in a position of power of them (including professors, mentors, bosses, etc.).
- Take self-defense classes. A variety of businesses have sprung up in the Provo area to teach boys and men tips on how to act and speak so that they can avoid being assaulted by false charges. Many of these classes cost less than $300, so there is no reason not to take them.
- Consider carrying a gun or knife. That way, if they are approached by a woman who seems like she might be about to make a false accusation, they can defend themselves.
- Communicate very, very clearly with their dates. They need to speak forcefully and unambiguously and make crystal-clear that they would NOT like to be assaulted with false accusations. Otherwise, how on earth could a woman get the message that they did not want this? (Especially if their clothing was sending a different message!) If they aren’t completely clear about this–especially by offering physical resistence–there is just no way for a woman to know that they don’t want to be assaulted. Women aren’t mind readers!
- Understand that the clothing they wear sends a message. Girls react differently to clothing than boys do. Boys should be sure that they don’t wear anything which sends the message that they want girls to make false accusations against them. As former YW President Elaine Dalton taught, “Just as one does not hike trails inhabited by rattlesnakes barefoot, similarly in today’s world it is essential to our very safety to be modest.” Some people say that it is not a young man’s problem if a girl is doing something wrong. If he is immodest, it’s not his problem if the girl does something wrong. Well, it is!
Bottom line: “You are vulnerable, every location is dangerous, being alone is dangerous, and you can’t trust anyone.”(cite)