Sexual Violence

Sexual violence includes sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, stalking, and harassment. All forms of sexual violence can involve persons of the same or different genders. A person of any gender can be the victim of sexual violence.

Sexual assault is non-consensual contact of a sexual nature. It includes any sexual contact when the victim does not or is unable to consent through the use of force, fear, intimidation, physical helplessness, ruse, impairment, or incapacity (including impairment or incapacitation as a result of the use of drugs or alcohol, knowingly or unknowingly); intentional and non-consensual touching of, or coercing forcing, or attempting to coerce or force another to touch, a person’s genital area, groin, inner thigh, buttocks, or breast; and non-consensual intercourse defined as anal, oral, or vaginal penetration with any object or body part.

Consent is knowing, voluntary, and clear permission by word or action to engage in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. Silence does not constitute consent. Past consent to sexual activities or a current or previous dating relationship does not imply ongoing or future consent. Consent to some sexual contact cannot be presumed to be consent for other sexual activity. The existence or consent is based on the totality of the circumstances including the context in which the incident occurred.  

Dating violence is violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim characterized by the expectation of affection or sexual involvement between the parties. Dating violence can be a single event or a pattern of behavior that includes but is not limited to sexual, physical, or emotional abuse.

Domestic violence is violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, a person with whom the victim shares a child, a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the law of the Commonwealth of Virginia, or by any other person against an adult or youth who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia or the applicable jurisdiction. Domestic violence can by a single event or a pattern of behavior that includes but is not limited to sexual, physical, or emotional abuse.

Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress, meaning significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling. A “course of conduct” means two or more acts including but not limited to acts in which the stalker directly, indirectly, or through third parties by any action, method, device, or means follows, monitors, observes, threatens, or communicates to or about a person or interferes with a person’s property.

Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other conduct of a sexual nature including: verbal (e.g. specific demands for sexual favors, sexual innuendoes, sexually suggestive comments, jokes of a sexual nature, sexual propositions, or sexual threats); non-verbal (e.g. sexually suggestive emails, other writings, articles or documents, objects, pictures, graphic commentaries, suggestive or insulting sounds or gestures, leering, or whistling); or physical (e.g. touching, pinching, brushing the body, or any unwelcome or coerced sexual activity including sexual assault).

For more information, please visit the Office of Institutional Equity and CDC sexual violence data sources