There are many definitions regarding sexual and gender-based violence. Often times, definitions may change depending on where those definitions are coming from. For example, a campus or university may have a definition that differs from the legal definition of that same word. Additional campus-based resources for definitions on sexual and gender-based violence can be found at:

Refers to any act that is perpetrated against a person’s will and is based on gender norms and unequal power relationships.

  • Encompasses threats of violence and coercion.

  • Can include physical, emotional, psychological or sexual

  • Inflicts harm on people of all genders

Examples include, but are not limited to the following: 

  • Sexual Assault

  • Harassment

  • Rape

  • Stalking

  • Interpersonal Violence

  • Domestic Violence

  • Unwanted groping/ non-consensual touching

The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim. Some forms of sexual assault include:

  • Attempted rape

  • Fondling or unwanted sexual touching

  • Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body

  • Penetration of the victim’s body, also known as rape

Harassment is a specific form of discrimination. It is unwelcome behavior, based on a protected classification, that a reasonable person would perceive to be sufficiently severe or pervasive to create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for academic pursuits, employment, or participation in University-sponsored activities. Additionally, sexual harassment, whether between individuals of the same or different sex, includes unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a condition of an individual’s education, employment, or participation in a University program or activity, and/or when the submission to or rejection of such conduct is a factor in decisions affecting that individual’s education, employment, or participation in University-sponsored activities. Harassing conduct may take many forms, including verbal acts and name calling, as well as nonverbal behavior, such as graphic, electronic, and written statements, or conduct that is physically offensive, harmful, or threatening.


Stalking is a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear,” according to the Department of Justice. Similar to crimes of sexual violence, stalking is about power and control.

Stalking behavior can take many forms including:

  • Making threats against someone, or that person's family or friends

  • Non-consensual communication, such as repeated phone calls, emails, text messages, and unwanted gifts

  • Repeated physical or visual closeness, like waiting for an someone to arrive at certain locations, following someone, or watching someone from a distance

  • Any other behavior used to contact, harass, track, or threaten someone.


One of the ways perpetrators stalk victims is through the use of technology. You may have heard the term cyber-stalking to refer to these types of interactions. “Use of technology to stalk” is a broad term that is used to cover all forms stalking that rely on technology.

  • Some uses of technology to stalk include:

  • Persistently sending unwanted communication through the internet, such as spamming someone’s email inbox or social media platform

  • Posting threatening or personal information about someone on public internet forums

  • Video-voyeurism, or installing video cameras that give the stalker access to someone’s personal life

  • Using GPS or other software tracking systems to monitor someone without their knowledge or consent

  • Using someone’s computer and/or spyware to track their computer activity

Consent is defined in the Student Code of Conduct:

“Consent” in the context of sexual activity means informed and freely given words or actions that indicate a willingness to participate in mutually agreed upon sexual activity.

Consent may not be inferred from: 1) silence, passivity or lack of resistance, 2) a current or previous dating or sexual relationship, 3) acceptance or provision of gifts, meals, drinks, or other items or or 4) previous consent to sexual activity.

Consent may be withdrawn during sexual activity, consent to one form of consensual sexual activity does not imply consent to any other form of sexual activity.

Consent may not be obtained through physical force, violence, duress, intimidation, coercion, or an express or implied threat of injury.

Consent may never be given by a person who is: incapacitated (by drugs, alcohol or otherwise), unconscious, asleep, or otherwise physically or mentally unable to make informed, rational judgments. The use of alcohol or drugs does not diminish one’s responsibility to obtain consent and does not excuse conduct that violates this Student Code of Conduct. 

Force doesn’t always refer to physical pressure. Perpetrators may use emotional coercion, psychological force, or manipulation to coerce a victim into non-consensual sex. Some perpetrators will use threats to force a victim to comply, such as threatening to hurt the victim or their family or other intimidation tactics.

"Rape is a form of sexual assault, but not all sexual assault is rape. The term rape is often used as a legal definition to specifically include sexual penetration without consent. For its Uniform Crime Reports, the FBI defines rape as “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” 

If you're not sure whether something you are experiencing falls under the category of sexual or gender-based violence, ask us: or (520) 621-5767.