Learn More

Below you’ll find information pertaining to resources, consent, sexual violence, STI testing, Title IX, and supporting survivors. As always, feel free to email us with any questions at shape@u.northwestern.edu.


SHAPE is supported by the CARE office:

Center for Awareness, Response and Education (CARE)
Office of Health Promotion and Wellness
Searle Hall, 3rd Floor
633 Emerson St.
Evanston, IL 60208


The CARE office is open 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday.

Other resources:

Sexual Violence, Relationship Violence, and Stalking Resources for Students

Sexual Health Resources for Students

Online Resources:

Defining Consent

Consent is “a knowing and voluntary agreement to engage in specific sexual activity at the time of the activity. In order to be valid, consent must be knowing, active, voluntary, present and ongoing. Consent is not present when an individual is incapacitated due to alcohol, drugs, sleep or other condition.”

The essential aspects of consent are:

  • Knowing: partners are aware of the conditions of their consent, and the conditions given are followed.
  • Active: no individual is incapacitated by drugs or alcohol, or asleep.
  • Voluntary: there is no coercion and each partner willingly consents.
  • Present and Ongoing: consent is continuously sought for each new act.


Defining Sexual and Domestic Violence

Sexual violence is term that refers to any type of nonconsensual sexual contact. This includes, but is not limited to: rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and sexual abuse. Domestic/dating violence is abusive behavior inflicted upon an intimate partner. It often features a cycle of tension, verbal/physical abuse, and reconciliation.

Northwestern University has developed its own definitions for sexual misconduct, including domestic violence, which can be found here.

Definitions for sexual and domestic violence vary state by state. Illinois’ criminal code can be found here.


STI Testing & Safer Sex

It is important for sexually active individuals to get regularly tested to protect their health as well as the health of their partners. Testing should be done annually as well as with every new partner. Searle offers cheap STI testing (free with NU student insurance); contact them with questions about billing and insurance.

Using safer sex methods, such as contraceptives and barrier methods, is the best way of preventing pregnancy and the transmission of STIs:

  • Barrier methods, including external and internal condoms, dental dams, and gloves and finger cots help protect against the spread of STIs and pregnancy.
  • Contraceptive methods such as the pill, the patch, implants, and IUDs protect against pregnancy, but do not protect against STIs.
  • Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a daily pill that prevents against the transmission of HIV. Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is a pill that can be taken within 72 hours of coming into contact with HIV to stop transmission.


What Is Title IX?

Northwestern’s Title IX Office, also referred to as the Sexual Harassment Prevention Office, addresses gender-based discrimination and violence in accordance with the federal Title IX educational mandate banning sex-based discrimination.

Title IX reports and meetings are always confidential and students have the option to remain anonymous. After reporting, individuals choose whether they wish to proceed with an investigation through the Title IX Office or not address the situation directly. The Title IX office also assists with medical needs, safety, and support for students who experienced sexual misconduct.

Click here for more information regarding Northwestern’s Title IX Coordinators, how to report, and the investigation process.


Supporting Survivors

Often, survivors of sexual assault and violence will confide in their friends. It is important to support survivors in a healthy way. There are a few key ideas/phrases to tell survivors in order for them to feel supported and safe:

  1. “I believe you.” Often, survivors are not believed by powers of authority, so it’s important to let them know that you do believe their story.
  2. “It’s not your fault.” Survivors may feel shame for their assault, but it is never the survivors fault. It is the fault of the person who perpetrated the assault.
  3. “You have options.” It is sometimes difficult to figure out what to do next after an assault. Offer resources and remind survivors that they are not alone.

It is your responsibility to support, affirm, and help survivors in your life. Help them by listening to and supporting them. CARE is always available to confidentially support survivors and friends of survivors!



Intersectionality is a term used to describe how different types of oppression and discrimination interact with each other and affect one’s privilege and experience in society. A person’s multiple identities are not mutually exclusive and they “intersect” to create a unique experience; often, these experiences can be overlooked or erased in favor of more dominant narratives. Personal identities and communities can significantly impact a survivor’s experience of safety, healing, acceptance, and connection. Intersectionality is also an essential component in conversations about rape culture and community prevention of sexual violence.

We work to continuously educate ourselves on various systems of oppression. However, we know some people are more comfortable working with advocates and educators who also possess their identities and are members of their communities. Check out our resources page for organizations in the Chicago area in addition to resources about the topics discussed on this page.


For more in-depth information, check out the CARE page or email us with questions at shape@u.northwestern.edu!