Don’t Guess the Yes launches campaign against alcohol based sexual violence in Auckland
After an incredibly successful five years operating in the Wellington region, consent awareness campaign Don’t Guess the Yes soft launched in July last year at the University of Auckland and was officially launched by NZ Police Auckland-wide in November last year.
It’s a preventative campaign against sexual violence that intends to foster discussion about alcohol consumption and sexual consent. Don’t Guess the Yes aims to encourage people to be vigilant in making sure they have informed consent before engaging in sexual activity, especially when alcohol is involved. The campaign is aimed at everyone, but has a focus on young men aged between 18 and 30.
Section 128A(4) of the Crimes Act 1961 makes it clear that a person cannot consent to sexual activity when they are, ‘so affected by alcohol or some other drug’ that they cannot consent. But what does this actually mean? Obviously, it goes without saying that the safest practice is to not mix sex and substances, including alcohol, at all.
However, sometimes this just isn’t what happens. The advice: be educated, and be careful. If you know someone has had a bit to drink, monitor for signs that they’ve had too much to give consent. This might look like them: being sleepy or unconscious, having an inability to properly communicate, or having an inability to walk straight. If you’re in doubt at all as to your ability to give consent or someone else’s, don’t engage in sexual activity. Hunker down, drink lots of water, and head out for a Powerade and a pie in the morning (Aotearoa’s greatest hangover cure). There’s always tomorrow; sober morning sex is better, anyway.
The purpose of Don’t Guess the Yes extends beyond just individuals—it’s about holding others accountable, too. Over 200 bar staff in Wellington have attended training workshops to become empowered against sexual violence. In August last year, the Student Wellbeing team helped to organise a training session with invites extended to Shadows staff, AUSA executives, Buttery Bar staff, Accommodation staff, and campus caterers with future trainings planned in the near future.
The hard line is that it is not hard to tell someone—a creepy old man bothering a young woman, one of your mates coming on too strong to some drunken stranger at the club, your brother, your co-worker, or even a complete stranger—to cut it out.
We can all help to create an environment where people feel comfortable, safe, and supported. If your mate is grafting a little too hard in the club, get them out of there and enjoy a DMC back at the flat. Talk to them about their behaviour when they’re sober, and model positive consent in your own relationships. If a friend comes to you for support and you are concerned they have been sexually victimised, remind them it was not their fault, no matter if they were intoxicated, or what they were wearing, or who they were with. It’s also important to remember that people of all ages and genders can be victims of sexual assault. While the vast majority of sexual assaults in Aotearoa on record are committed by men against women, this is not always the case. Sexual violence happens to men and people in queer spaces too. If necessary, please do not hesitate to make use of the below resources.
National Sexual Harm Helpline: phone 0800 044 334 or text 4334, 24 hours, 7 days a week. Victim Support Helpline: phone 0800 842 846, 24 hours, 7 days a week.