What is Sexual Violence?

Sexual violence is a broad term that encompasses a continuum of words and actions varying in degree from harassing comments of a sexual nature to a sexual contact (including, but not limited to sexual intercourse) when such contact occurs without consent; or with the use of physical force, coercion, deception, or threat; OR when the victim is mentally incapacitated or impaired, physically helpless, or asleep or unconscious.


Consent is informed, freely and actively given, and mutually understood by both partners. Consent is an active process and a responsibility shared by both partners in any relationship. If physical force, coercion, intimidation, and/or threats are used, there is no consent. If the victim is mentally or physically incapacitated or impaired so that the victim cannot understand the fact, nature or extend of the sexual situation, and the condition was or would be known to a reasonable person, there is no consent. This includes conditions due to alcohol or drug consumption, or being asleep or unconscious.

  • Silence does not mean consent;
  • If consent is given under duress (physical or emotional threats) it is not given freely or willingly;
  • If someone is impaired due to alcohol or drugs, it does not constitute consent (even if the person says yes);
  • Don’t make assumptions about consent, lack of a “no” is not a “yes”.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault or rape is defined as penetration (could be oral, anal, or vaginal), by force, or when the victim is unable to give knowing consent. If an individual is “incapacitated from drugs or alcohol” (i.e. drunk) they cannot give consent.