What is Sexual Violence?


Sexual violence is any unwanted or non-consensual sexual act. Sexual violence can be committed by acquaintances, casual or long-term dating partners, spouses or strangers. The use of alcohol and/or any other substance, by either party, in conjunction with an incident of sexual violence, does not mitigate responsibility or diminish the seriousness of the offense. Examples of sexual violence include, but are not limited to:

  • non-consensual, intentional contact with intimate body parts
  • non-consensual, intentional penetration with a foreign object
  • non-consensual penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ
  • non-consensual oral or anal sexual acts
  • lewd exposure of sexual organs in public
  • non-consensual kissing

Consent is defined as clearly communicating agreement or permission to participate in sexual activity. The individuals consenting must act freely and voluntarily and have knowledge of the nature of the act or transaction involved. Such consent may be withdrawn at any time, without regard to activity preceding the withdrawal of consent. A current or previous intimate relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent. Consent may not be inferred from silence or passivity alone. Intoxication, drug use or other reasons for incapacity are obstacles to consent. A person cannot freely, voluntarily, and with knowledge of the act, be deemed to have consented if she or he is intoxicated, in a drug-induced state, or other wised incapacitated. Non-consent occurs when the complaining party is prevented from resisting or giving consent as a result of intoxication, or is unconscious at the time of the act. It is a violation of this policy to engage in any form of sexual activity without the consent of the other person.

Coercion is defined as the act of forcing (or attempting to force) another individual through violence, threats, verbal insistence, or deception, to engage in sexual acts against his or her will.  The use of coercion in a sexual encounter constitutes a lack of consent.

Relationship Violence is defined as physically, sexually and/or psychologically abusive behaviors used by one individual to maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Intimate partners may be dating, cohabitating, married, separated or divorced. Relationship violence can occur in same- or opposite-sex relationships. Examples of relationship violence include, but are not limited to:

  • attempting or committing an act that causes fear of injury
  • assaulting with a deadly weapon or with intent to murder, rape or rob intentionally causing physical harm to another; making insulting or provoking physical contact
  • intentionally causing substantial physical harm
  • following, placing under surveillance or contacting without direct or indirect consent for the purpose of harassing and intimidating
  • in violation of a restraining or protective order, condition of probation, bond, etc.
  • threatening to commit a crime of violence or to damage property