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 themselves and their experience. There is no "correct" or "best" way to do so.

Some people prefer to be called a 'survivor', while 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.
  • stalking:
    • 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 reckless 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).
  • voyeurism:
    • watching, photographing, or recording someone for a sexual purpose without their knowledge and consent, or in a place where there is an expectation of privacy (e.g. bathroom stall, change room).
  • distribution of sexual images or video of a person(s) without their consent
  • stealthing:
    • the covert and non-consensual removal of a contraceptive device during sexual activity
  • inappropriate online activity including online harassment or online stalking of a sexual nature

A culture in which sexual violence occurs frequently and is often normalized, trivialized, or dismissed. This is often due to harmful attitudes, beliefs, and practices (e.g. victim blaming, sexism, racism) that are perpetuated through institutions, media, education, healthcare, and/or legal systems.

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 doing the initiating or pursuing to obtain consent at all stages of physical or sexual engagement.

More specifically, consent:

  • is a freely given and enthusiastic "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 (such as due to age, power imbalance, or miss-information);
  • 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 (which can be done confidentially) regarding an experience of sexual violence for the purpose of receiving support only.

Disclosing is different from making a formal report and does not lead to punitive action. Survivors can disclose to anyone they trust, but it is recommended that they disclose to a Student Support Advisor (SSA) who can provide specialized support. Connect to an SSA by emailing disclosures@capilanou.ca or calling/texting 604-240-1317.

A formal report of an experience of sexual violence made to a designated University employee (in Student Affairs or Human Resources) for the purpose of initiating an investigation or alternative resolution process (restorative or transformative justice) by the University.

Reporting is different than disclosing, which does not initiate a formal process. This is also different than 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 email disclosures@capilanou.ca or call/text 604-240-1317 for support and additional information.

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 disclosures@capilanou.ca or call 604 986 1911, ext. 3046 for more support and additional information.


Have questions?

Office of Student Affairs

604 986 1911, ext. 3046
Library Building, room LB116