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Important Terms to Know

Consent is the key in any sexual activity. Consent is a freely given agreement. Agreement implies that an individual can choose between at least two options - YES or NO - without threat or harm. Giving in is NOT consent; it is often a survival strategy. Silence is not consent – NO does not have to be verbalized for consent to be withdrawn, and may be done so through body language and physical actions. Saying yes does not equal consent if it has been coerced. It may also be withdrawn at anytime. If yes becomes no, the activity must end immediately.

Coercion is the act of using pressure, threats, drug or alcohol impairment, or force, to gain consent. Consent cannot be forced; it must be freely and willingly given. Coercion may include purposefully causing incapacitation of drugs and alcohol to manipulate consent.

Sexual Assault (Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse or Attempted Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse)
Sexualized Violence is a continuum of criminal and wrongful acts that include ALL LEVELS of nonconsensual contact, including when one is unconscious, intoxicated, or otherwise unable to give consent. This includes, but is not limited to, the 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.

Sexual activity without consent is considered sexual assault with both strangers and people who are known to you, such as a partner, friend, classmate, or casual acquaintance.

Other Non-Consensual Sexual Activities: The touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her age or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental incapacity. This includes, but is not limited to, non-consensual touching or sexual contact of the breasts, buttocks, groin, genitals, mouths, as well as non-consensual dis-robing or exposure.

Domestic, Romantic, and Intimate Partner Violence: Causing any physical, emotional, or sexual harm to your partner in a relationship. Signs of an abusive relationship include jealousy, possessiveness, isolating and controlling behavior, threats and intimidations, put-downs and name-calling, yelling, breaking things, physical and sexual assault, and financial coercion or control. Individuals of any gender identity or sexuality can perpetrate and/or be victims of sexual abuse. ​

Page last updated: April 27, 2017