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Below, you will find definitions for the following terms:

Intimate Partner Violence (Dating Violence, Domestic Violence)

Intimate Partner Violence includes any act of violence or threatened act of violence that occurs between individuals who are involved or have been involved in a sexual, dating, spousal, domestic, or other intimate relationship. Intimate Partner Violence may include Sexual Assault, Stalking, and Physical Assault.

There is often a general pattern or repeated cycle of violence, starting with the first instance of abuse:

Tension Building: Relationship begins to get strained or tense between partners.
Explosion: Outburst that includes verbal, emotional, or physical abuse.
Honeymoon: Apologies where the abuser tries to re-connect with his/her partner by shifting the blame onto someone or something else.

Signs that it could be intimate partner violence:

One person:

  • Constantly blames his/her boyfriend or girlfriend for everything, including his/her own abusive behavior/temper
  • Makes mean and degrading comments about a partner's appearance, beliefs or accomplishments
  • Constantly checks the other person's cell phone or email without permission
  • Monitors where the partner is going, who he/she is going with and what he/she is doing
  • Isolates the other partner from friends and family
  • Controls money and time
  • Shows extreme jealousy
  • Loses his/her temper
  • Physically and/or sexually assaults another
  • Damages the other person's property

The other person:

  • Gives up things that are important to him/her
  • Cancels plans with friends to appease the other person
  • Becomes isolated from family or friends
  • Worries about making his/her significant other angry
  • Shows signs of physical abuse like bruises or cuts
  • Feels embarrassed or ashamed about what is going on in his/her relationship
  • Consistently makes excuses for his/her significant other's behavior

Common Reactions:
Experiencing intimate partner violence can be a serious and frightening experience. The threat of repeated danger can be extremely upsetting. Here is a list of common feelings and reactions that survivors of intimate partner violence have reported:

  • Fearful
  • Vulnerable
  • Depressed
  • Confused
  • Isolated
  • Hopeless
  • Difficulty concentrating, sleeping or remembering things
  • Irritable
  • Impatient
  • On-edge
  • Nervous


Stalking occurs when a person engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person and involves Sexual or Gender-Based Harassment under circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to fear bodily injury or to experience substantial emotional distress.

Course of conduct means two or more acts, including but not limited to acts in which a person directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means, follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about another person, or interferes with another person’s property. Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish.

Stalking includes "cyber-stalking," a particular form of stalking in which a person uses electronic media, such as the internet, social networks, blogs, cell phones, texts, or other similar devices or forms of contact.

Signs that it could be stalking:

  • Following you, with or without your knowledge
  • Calling or texting excessively
  • Knowing your schedule and/or showing up at places you go
  • Threatening to hurt you, your friends, family, pets, or themselves
  • Damaging your property
  • It can even look romantic or non-threatening, like cards, flowers, emails, etc, but if this behavior is unwanted, it could be stalking.

For more information on stalking please visit:

Are You Being Stalked?

Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other intimidating verbal or written communications or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

  1. Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment, education, academic pursuits, or participation in a College activity (often referred to as “quid pro quo” harassment); or
  2. Such conduct affects or has the purpose of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s employment, education, living environment, or participation in a College activity by creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or learning environment.

A hostile environment can be created by persistent or pervasive conduct or by a single or isolated incident, if sufficiently severe. The more severe the conduct, the less need there is to show a repetitive series of incidents to prove a hostile environment, particularly if the conduct is physical. A single incident of Sexual Assault, for example, may be sufficiently severe to constitute a hostile environment. In contrast, the perceived offensiveness of a single verbal or written expression, standing alone, is typically not sufficient to constitute a hostile environment.

Signs that it could be sexual harassment:

  • Sexual comments or inappropriate references to gender
  • Sexually explicit statements, questions, jokes, or anecdotes regardless of the means of communication (oral, written, electronic, etc.)
  • Unwanted touching, patting, hugging, brushing against a person's body or staring
  • Inquiries or commentaries about sexual activity, experience, or orientation
  • Display of inappropriate or sexually oriented material in locations where others can view them
  • Offers of or demands for sex for jobs, promotions, money or other opportunities or rewards
  • Unwanted flirtation, advances or propositions

Effects of Sexual Harassment

Being sexually harassed can devastate your psychological health, physical well-being and vocational development. Survivors who have been harassed often change their jobs, career goals, job assignments, educational programs or academic majors. In addition, survivors have reported psychological and physical reactions to being harassed that are similar to reactions to other forms of stress. They may include:

Gender-Based Harassment

Title IX also prohibits gender-based harassment, which may include acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping, even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature.

Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault consists of Sexual Contact and/or Sexual Intercourse that occurs without Affirmative Consent.

Sexual Contact is:

  1. Any intentional sexual touching, however slight
  2. with any object or body part (as described below)
  3. performed by a person upon another person
  4. that is without affirmative consent and/or by force.

Sexual Contact includes (a) intentional touching of the breasts, buttocks, groin or genitals, whether clothed or unclothed, or intentionally touching another with any of these body parts; and (b) making another touch you or themselves with or on any of these body parts.

Sexual Intercourse is:

  1. Any penetration, however slight
  2. with any object or body part (as described below)
  3. performed by a person on another person
  4. that is without affirmative consent and/or by force.

Sexual Intercourse includes (a) vaginal penetration by a penis, object, tongue, or finger; (b) anal penetration by a penis, object, tongue, or finger; and (c) any contact, no matter how slight, between the mouth of one person and the genitalia of another person.

Examples of Sexual Violence:

  • Any sexual activity performed in the absence of consent or through coercion
  • Forced oral, anal, or vaginal sex with any body part or object
  • Unwanted rough or violent sexual activity
  • Rape or attempted rape
  • Keeping someone from protecting themselves from unwanted pregnancies or STIs
  • Sexual contact with someone who is very drunk, drugged, unconscious or unable to give a clear and informed yes
  • Threatening or pressuring someone into sexual activity

Common reactions
Sexual assault can be one of the most painful and upsetting things that can happen in someone's life. It is natural if your emotions frequently fluctuate. Here is a list of common feelings and reactions that survivors of sexual violence have reported:

  • Wondering "why me?"
  • Fear
  • Anger or rage
  • Numbness or emptiness
  • Stomach ache
  • Headache
  • Difficulty sleeping/change in sleeping habits
  • Change in eating habits
  • Disbelief
  • Shame
  • Betrayal
  • Sense of loss
  • Loss of control
  • Nightmares
  • Guilt
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Feelings of withdrawal
  • Panic
  • Reluctance to go to school/work

Affirmative Consent

Affirmative Consent is:
  1. Informed (knowing)
  2. Voluntary (freely given)
  3. Active (not passive), meaning that, through the demonstration of clear words or actions, a person has indicated permission to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity

Affirmative Consent cannot be obtained by Force. Force includes (a) the use of physical violence, (b) threats, (c) intimidation, and/or (d) coercion.

  1. Physical violence means that a person is exerting control over another person through the use of physical force. Examples of physical violence include hitting, punching, slapping, kicking, restraining, choking, and brandishing or using any weapon.
  2. Threats are words or actions that would compel a reasonable person to engage in unwanted sexual activity. Examples include threats to harm a person physically, to reveal private information to harm a person’s reputation, or to cause a person academic or economic harm.
  3. Intimidation is an implied threat that menaces or causes reasonable fear in another person. A person’s size, alone, does not constitute intimidation; however, a person’s size may be used in a way that constitutes intimidation (e.g., blocking access to an exit).
  4. Coercion is the use of an unreasonable amount of pressure to gain sexual access. Coercion is more than an effort to persuade, entice, or attract another person to have sex. When a person makes clear a decision not to participate in a particular form of Sexual Contact or Sexual Intercourse, a decision to stop, or a decision not to go beyond a certain sexual interaction, continued pressure can be coercive.

Affirmative Consent cannot be gained by taking advantage of the incapacitation of another, where the person initiating sexual activity knew or reasonably should have known that the other was incapacitated. Incapacitation means that a person lacks the ability to make informed, rational judgments about whether or not to engage in sexual activity.

A person who is incapacitated is unable, temporarily or permanently, to give Affirmative Consent because of mental or physical helplessness or as determined by a court of law, sleep, unconsciousness, or lack of awareness that sexual activity is taking place. A person may be incapacitated as a result of the consumption of alcohol or other drugs, or due to a temporary or permanent physical or mental health condition.