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Sexual Harassment • Sexual Assault • Intimate Partner Violence/Domestic Violence • Stalking

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors or other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when submission to or rejection of such advances, requests, or conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, (i) a term or condition of educational benefits, privileges, or placement services or as a basis for the evaluation of academic achievement of a student or (ii) a term or condition of employment or a basis for employment decisions concerning any employee.

Sexual harassment is also defined as unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors or other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that are so severe or pervasive that they have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with a student’s education or an employee’s work performance or of creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, or sexually offensive educational, living, or working environment, when judged by the standards of a reasonable person.

Sexual harassment also includes stalking, as defined by the Violence Against Women Act. The definition of stalking as set forth in the VAWA law is discussed below, in the section entitled 2013 Violence Against Women Act Section 304 Definitions.

Sexual harassment does not refer to compliments or other behavior of a socially acceptable nature. It does not refer to discussions of material with a sexual component which might offend some but which was introduced in class or conference for intellectual purposes.


What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is defined as having sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another individual without consent.

Sexual contact includes intentional contact with the intimate parts of another, causing another to touch one’s intimate parts, or disrobing or exposure of another without permission. Intimate parts may include the breasts, genitals, buttocks, groin, mouth, or any other part of the body that is touched in a sexual manner. Sexual contact also includes attempted sexual intercourse.

Sexual intercourse includes vaginal or anal penetration, however slight, with a body part (e.g., penis, tongue, finger, hand, etc.) or object, or oral penetration involving mouth to genital contact.

Sexual assault also includes Dating Violence and Domestic Violence, as defined by the Violence Against Women Act, if the violence involved fits the definition above.


What is intimate partner violence/domestic violence?

Intimate partner violence (IPV), sometimes called battering, family violence, or domestic violence (DV), is violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of an intimate nature with the victim. IPV/DV can involve any person with whom one has an intimate relationship, such as a partner, ex-partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, friend, or any other individual.

IPV/DV is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person. It can include physical abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, economic abuse, and/or sexual abuse. Abusers use threats, intimidation, isolation, excessive jealousy, and/or possessive behavior to gain and maintain power over the target of their abuse.


What is Stalking?

Stalking is a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, violence, or any other conduct directed at another person that makes them feel afraid or in danger.  A person can be stalked by someone they know, someone they have dated, or by a stranger. Stalking is serious, and can escalate over time, and sometimes become violent.

Stalking can include:

  • Repeated, unwanted, intrusive, and/or frightening communications by phone, text, mail, and/or email
  • Repeatedly leaving or sending unwanted items, presents, or flowers
  • Following or spying on a person at places such as home, school, work, or on the street
  • Showing up unwanted at a person’s home, school, or job
  • Threatening a person or someone close to that person
  • Vandalizing or threatening to vandalize a person’s property
  • Cyberstalking—unwanted posting, presence, or monitoring of a person’s presence on the Internet
  • Using technology like hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS) to track where a person goes
  • Obtaining personal information by accessing public records, using Internet search services, hiring private investigators, or going through a person’s garbage