Sexual Violence

Sexual Violence is a term that identifies a range of behaviors in which an act of a sexual nature is perpetrated against an individual without consent or when an individual is unable to give consent. Sexual violence occurs when a sexual act is committed by (a) physical force, violence, or threats; (b) coercion or intimidation (c) ignoring objections of another person; (d) causing another’s intoxication or impairment through the use of alcohol or drugs; or (e) taking advantage of another person’s incapacitation, unconsciousness, state of intimidation, helplessness, or other inability to consent.

Consent

Consent is an affirmative decision to engage in mutually acceptable sexual activity, and is given by clear words or actions.  It is an informed decision made freely and actively by all parties.  Consent may not be inferred from silence, passivity, or lack of resistance alone. Consent cannot be obtained from someone who is asleep, unconscious or otherwise mentally or physically incapacitated, whether due to alcohol, drugs, or some other condition. Furthermore, consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity and the existence of a current or previous dating, marital and/or sexual relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent to additional sexual activity. Consent cannot be obtained by threat, coercion, intimidation, isolation, confinement, or force. Agreement given under such conditions does not constitute consent.

Coercion

The practice of forcing another party to act in an involuntary manner (whether through action or inaction) by use of intimidation or threats or some other form of pressure or force, that violates the free will of an individual in order to induce a desired response.

Stalking

A Course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.  (Stalking Resource Center)

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)

Partner rape is defined as sexual acts committed without a person’s consent and/or against a person’s will when the perpetrator is the individual’s current partner (married or not), previous partner, or co-habitator.  (Rainn, 2013)

For more information, see the Student Guidelines for the University of Pennsylvania Sexual Violence Policy.