When we talk about sexual violence, the language that we use matters. Below is an overview of some key definitions.
It is important to recognize that those who have experienced sexual violence will have their own way to refer to their experience - there is no one "correct" or "best" way.
Some people prefer to be referred to as 'Survivor', others may prefer 'Victim'. We also recognize this language is imperfect, and cannot capture the entirety of someone's experience or their identity.
An umbrella term that encompasses a broad range of sexual behavior, whether physical or psychological, that is committed, threatened or attempted against a person without the person's consent.
It takes many forms including, but not limited to:
- sexual violence
- sexual assault:
- any form of unwanted sexual contact that occurs without ongoing and freely given consent, including the threat of sexual contact without consent. Sexual assault can include any form of unwanted touching, kissing, groping, fondling, forced sexual activity (including oral and anal), and attempted forced sexual intercourse. Sexual assault can be perpetrated by a stranger, someone known to the survivor, by an intimate partner or others(s). Anyone can perpetrate sexual assault, and anyone can be a survivor of sexual assault. Sexual assault is the legal term used in Canada and is a crime.
- sexual exploitation:
- actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, power, or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another.
- sexual harassment:
- a comment, conduct or representations of a sexual nature, including sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, suggestive comments or gestures, or physical contact by a person who knows, or ought reasonably to know, that the conduct or comment is unwanted or unwelcome. The behavior interferes with another person’s participation in a University-related activity; or leads to or implies employment or academically-related consequences for the person harassed; or creates an intimidating, humiliating or hostile environment.
- a pattern of behavior that consists of repeated or repeated attempts at following, contacting, monitoring or harassing a person (on or offline).
- indecent exposure:
- the reckess or intentional exposure of ones’ private body parts (such as the genitals) under circumstances that are likely to cause offence or affront (e.g. in public).
- the practice of obtaining sexual pleasure from watching or recording others when they are naked or engaged in sexual activity (a.k.a. a "Peeping Tom")
- distribution of sexual images or video of a person(s) without their consent
- the covert and non-consensual removal of a contraceptive device during sexual activity
- online activity including online harassment or online stalking of a sexual nature
A prominent culture that normalizes and trivializes sexual violence, often through victim blaming. This is often perpetuated through institutions, media, education, healthcare, and/or legal system.
Means an active, direct, voluntary, and conscious choice and agreement between two adults to engage in physical or sexual activity.
It is the responsibility of the person initiating or pursuing physical or sexual activity to obtain consent at all stages of physical or sexual engagement.
More specifically, consent:
- is a freely given "yes";
- cannot be assumed or based on a perception that it was implied;
- cannot be given by someone who is incapacitated (by drugs and/or alcohol), asleep, unconscious, or otherwise incapable of providing consent;
- can be removed at any time, regardless of whatever other physical or sexual activities have taken place;
- can never be obtained through threats, intimidation, coercion or other pressure tactics;
- cannot be obtained if someone abuses a position of trust, power or authority; and
- cannot be assumed from previous consent to previous physical or sexual activities.
The sharing of information by a member of the University community regarding an incident of sexual violence with a member of the University community in order to access support only. A disclosure is not the same as a report.
A disclosure can be made without a formal report to the University.
A formal report of an incident of sexual violence made by a member of the University community for the purpose of initiating some form of investigation by the University.
This is not the same as disclosing, which does not initiate a formal process. This is also not the same as making a report to police or other reporting mechanism outside of the University.
If you are unsure about a situation and do not know if this would be considered an act of sexual violence or if you have any questions regarding these definitions, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604 986 1911, ext. 3046 for more support and additional information.