Skip to contentSkip to navigation

Definitions

Sexual Violence is a form of Sexual Harassment and means physical sexual acts, such as unwelcome sexual touching, sexual assault, sexual battery, rape, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking (when based on gender or sex), perpetrated against an individual against his or her will and without consent or against an individual who is incapable of giving consent due to that individual's use of drugs or alcohol, status as a minor, or disability. Sexual Violence may include physical force, violence, threat, or intimidation, ignoring the objections of the other person, causing the other person’s intoxication or incapacitation through the use of drugs or alcohol, or taking advantage of the other person’s incapacitation (including voluntary intoxication). Men as well as women can be victims of these forms of Sexual Violence.

Sexual Assault is a form of Sexual Violence and is an attempt, coupled with the ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another because of that person’s gender or sex.

Sexual Battery is a form of Sexual Violence and is any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another because of that person’s gender or sex.

Rape is 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. This definition includes any gender of victim or perpetrator, and also instances in which the victim is incapable of giving consent because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity (including due to the influence of drugs or alcohol) or because of age. Physical resistance is not required on the part of the victim to demonstrate lack of consent.

Acquaintance Rape is a form of Sexual Violence committed by an individual known to the victim. This includes a person the victim may have just met; i.e., at a party, introduced through a friend, or on a social networking website. See above for definition of Rape.

Consent isan informed, affirmative, conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity.

  • Consent must be voluntary, and given without coercion, force, threats, or intimidation. Consent requires positive cooperation in a particular sexual act, or expression of intent to engage in that sexual act through the exercise of free will.
  • Consent can be withdrawn or revoked. Consent to one form of sexual activity (or one sexual act) does not constitute consent to other forms of sexual activity (or other sexual acts). Consent to sexual activity given on one occasion does not constitute consent to sexual activity on another occasion. The fact that two people are or were in a dating or sexual relationship does not constitute consent to engage in sexual activity. There must always be mutual and affirmative consent to engage in sexual activity. Consent to a sexual act may be withdrawn or revoked at any time, including after penetration. The victim’s request for the perpetrator to use a condom or birth control does not, in and of itself, constitute consent. Once consent is withdrawn or revoked, the sexual activity must stop immediately.
  • Consent cannot be given by a person who is incapacitated. For example, a person cannot give consent if s/he is unconscious or coming in and out of consciousness. A person is incapacitated if s/he lacks the physical and/or mental ability to make informed, rational judgments. Examples of incapacitation include unconsciousness, sleep, and blackouts. Whether an intoxicated person (as a result of using alcohol or other drugs) is incapacitated depends on the extent to which the alcohol or other drugs impact the person’s decision-making capacity, awareness of consequences, and ability to make fully informed judgments. A person with a medical or mental disability may also lack the capacity to give consent. Being intoxicated by drugs or alcohol does not diminish a person’s responsibility to obtain consent from the other party before engaging in sexual activity. Factors to be considered include whether the person knew, or whether a reasonable person in the accused’s position should have known, that the victim did not give, or revoked consent; was incapacitated; or was otherwise incapable of giving consent.

Sexual intercourse with a minor is never consensual when the victim is under 18 years old since the victim is considered incapable of giving legal consent due to age.

Domestic Violence is a form of Sexual Violence and is abuse committed against someone who is a current or former spouse, current or former cohabitant, someone with whom the abuser has a child, someone with whom the abuser has or had a dating or engagement relationship, or a person similarly situated under California domestic or family violence law. Cohabitant means two unrelated persons living together for a substantial period of time, resulting in some permanency of relationship. Factors that may determine whether persons are cohabiting include, but are not limited to (1) sexual relations between the parties while sharing the same living quarters, (2) sharing of income or expenses, (3) joint use or ownership of property, (4) whether the parties hold themselves out as spouses, (5) the continuity of the relationship, and (6) the length of the relationship.

Dating Violence is a form of Sexual Violence and is abuse committed by a person who is or has been in a social or dating relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim. The existence of such a relationship will be determined based on a consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.

Stalking is a willful, malicious, repeated course of conduct directed at a specific person that places that person in reasonable fear for his/her safety or the safety of his/her immediate family, or causes the victim to suffer substantial emotional distress.