Boundaries and Risk Reduction


Most people want to respect others’ boundaries. Without education, skill building and practice, consent violations may happen. It is still the responsibility of each of us in the Appalachian Community to respect another person’s boundaries — whether they be a partner, friend or acquaintance. The following content comes from

How am I supposed to know my partner’s boundaries?

Ask early and often. You can do this in person, online, via text, or over video chat. Everyone’s boundaries are different and should be respected (including yours). If you’re not sure, ask.

But my partner’s boundaries make me unhappy in the relationship!

Each person has a right to have their own feelings and needs. • No one should try to impose their needs or feelings on another person.

If you find your boundaries clashing, start by looking at your own boundaries to see if they’re potentially putting unhealthy or unrealistic expectations on your partner.

Boundaries + sex

It’s easy to get swept up in the moment and forget to ask your partner(s) about their physical boundaries. But when it comes to intimacy, sex and methods of protection, everyone has different backgrounds, desires and comfort levels, and it’s important to be mindful of the fact that what’s okay with you might not be okay with your partner.

Try to talk with your partner about their boundaries and expectations around sex before you’re in the moment. Communicating with each other in the moment to make sure everything feels good the whole time and no one feels uncomfortable is also a good idea.

Check out Scarleteen’s checklist you can use with your partner(s) to learn each other’s sexual boundaries: Yes, No, Maybe So.

Our levels of comfort and desire change, so we can’t assume that just because a partner was okay with something in the past, that they will always be okay with it. Everyone (including you) has the right to change their boundaries anytime, for any reason.

Digital life + privacy

True or False? If your partner doesn’t have anything to hide, they should be OK sharing their passwords, text messages, DMs, apps, emails, etc.

Having privacy doesn’t mean that your partner is hiding anything. Everyone has the right to privacy, and no one should have to give it up to be in a relationship. Doing things like asking your partner for passwords to social media, email, their phone, or expecting them to tell you where they go and who they’re with violates their basic right to privacy, and can be a form of digital abuse.

If you’re finding it hard to respect your partner’s privacy, it may be a red flag that you’re having trouble trusting them. If trust is lacking in your relationship, it is impossible for the relationship to be healthy. If you find that you can’t trust your partner, get to the bottom of those feelings to find out why.

Risk reduction

Risk reduction is defined as options designed to:

  • Decrease perpetration and bystander inaction
  • Increase empowerment for victims in order to promote safety
  • Help individuals and communities address conditions that facilitate violence

No victim is ever to blame for being assaulted or abused. Below are some tips to help reduce risk of becoming a victim through the recognition of some possible warning signs:

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Knowing where you are and who is around you may help you to find a way to get out of a bad situation. Learn a well-lit route to your place of residence and avoid putting headphones in both ears, especially if you are walking alone.

  • Try to avoid isolated areas and becoming isolated with someone you don’t trust or someone you don’t know well. It is more difficult to get help if no one is around.

  • Walk with purpose. Even if you don’t know where you are going, act like you do. Try not to load yourself down with packages or bags as this can make you appear more vulnerable.

  • Trust your instincts. If a situation or location feels unsafe or uncomfortable, it probably isn’t the best place to be.

  • Make sure your cell phone is with you and charged and that you have some cash in case you need it.

In a social situation

  • When you go to a party, go with a group of friends. Arrive together, check in with each other and leave together.
  • Practice responsible drinking. If someone offers to get you a drink from the bar at a club or party, go with them to the bar to order it, watch it being poured, and carry it yourself. Don’t drink from punch bowls or other large, common open containers. Don’t leave your drink unattended while talking, dancing, using the restroom or making a phone call. Watch out for your friends, and vice versa.
  • Have a buddy system. Don’t be afraid to let a friend know if something is making you uncomfortable or if you are worried about your or your friend’s safety.
  • If someone you don’t know or trust asks you to go somewhere alone, let him or her know that you would rather stay with the group.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Knowing where you are and who is around you may help you to find a way out of an unsafe situation.