Definitions for Sexual Assault and Violence
“Affirmative consent” is defined as an affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. Under the law, neither the lack of protest or resistance nor silence constitutes consent, and consent may be withdrawn at any time. Affirmative consent must be given by all parties to sexual activity. Consent requires that all parties involved are awake and conscious, not incapacitated due to drugs/alcohol/medication, and able to communicate.
Dating Violence: Abuse or mistreatment that occurs in either heterosexual or same-sex relationships. It may take place at any time during the dating process – when two people first meet and become interested in one another, on their first date, during their courtship, once they have been involved with each other for some time, or after their relationship has ended.
Intimate Partner (Domestic) Violence: Physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy.
Rape: Unwanted, coerced and/or forced sexual penetration. The perpetrator may penetrate the victim’s vagina, mouth, or anus, either with a body part or another object. The victim may also be forced to penetrate the perpetrator’s vagina, mouth, or anus.
Sexual Assault: Any sexual violence against the wishes and without the consent of the violated person, whether by a stranger or by an acquaintance, whether against a woman or a man, is a violation of the law. Consent cannot be given if the person is asleep, intoxicated, unconscious, mentally disordered, under threat of force, or for any other reason unable to communicate willingness to participate in sexual activity. Intercourse under any of these circumstances is rape.
Sexual Harassment: Unwanted verbal sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other visual, verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can also include stalking, voyeurism (“peeping toms”), exhibitionism/exposing, and obscene comments and phone calls. Sexual harassment can occur in the workplace, school, and other settings (such as public transportation, shopping malls, community events, social gatherings, places of worship, health care facilities) and can create an intimidating or hostile environment for the victim. The perception of the victim, not the intent of the harasser, determines whether particular words or actions are harassing.
Sexual Violation: Use of sexual contact behaviors that are unwanted by and/or harmful to another person, but do not involve penetration. This can include touching or rubbing against a non-consenting person in public (“frottage”), forced masturbation, and non-consensual touching of the breasts, buttocks, genitals, and other sexualized body parts by another person.
Hate Crimes: Hate violence as defined in the statute “means any act of physical intimidation or physical harassment, physical force or physical violence, or the threat of physical force or physical violence, that is directed against any person or group of persons because of the ethnicity, race, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, or political/religious beliefs of that person or group”.
Stalking: While legal definitions of stalking vary from one jurisdiction to another, a good working definition of stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. A stalker is someone who willfully, maliciously and repeatedly follows or harasses another (victim) and who makes a credible threat with the intent to place the victim or victim’s immediate family in fear for their safety. According to California Penal Code 646.9, the victim does not have to prove that the stalker had the intent to carry out the threat.
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