What is Sexual Violence? It is a Crime!

Definitions, that is, knowing what we are talking about, clearly and simply, are essential. Here they are.

What are we talking about?


Sexual Violence:

Sexual violence is a broad term that encompasses sexual assault, ranging from verbal harassment to sexual assault or abuse to rape and sexual homicide (CALCASA Campus Violence Prevention Resource Guides p. 28). The perpetrator of sexual violence may be a stranger, friend, family member, or intimate partner. It is important to note that 90% of college rape victims know their offenders (Fisher, Cullen, & Turner, 2000). (http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/factsheets /svfacts.htm)


Sexual Assault:

Any act of violence, either physical or verbal, in which sex is used as a weapon. At its most basic level, sexual assault refers to any form of nonconsensual sexual activity, which encompasses all unwanted sexual acts from intimidation to touching to penetration. Sexual assault is an act of aggression designed to humiliate, intimidate, control, or instill fear (CALCASA Campus Violence Prevention Resource Guides p. 28).



Stalking is defined as non-consensual communication with, and/or harassment of another person. It is the willful, malicious and repeated harassing or threatening of another person which, as a pattern, tends to escalate in both intensity and frequency over time and can last for many years. . Stalking includes a direct or implied threat, and victims often report fear for their safety Stalking is about power and control. Stalkers control the time, type, amount, and place of contact. No matter what the motivation for stalking, the unwanted behaviors are the same and may include, but are not limited to: repeated following, repeated telephone calls and hang-ups; letters; unwanted gifts and packages; spreading harmful gossip about victims; breaking-and-entering that can include vandalism, theft, or even simply rearranging objects so that victims know the stalker was there. Stalkers may also enlist their friends or associates to help them stalk or have their associates speak with friends of the victim to obtain information. 


Dating Violence:

“Dating violence is violence that occurs between people who know each other: boyfriends and girlfriends or same sex partners whether or not they live together. The violence may be physical, but it can also include threats, enforced social isolation and/or humiliation, intimidation, harassment, emotional mistreatment, financial control, forced sex or making threats with regard to family, friends, and/or children http: //www.tapestri.org/domesticViolence1.html Some of the common terms used to describe dating violence are courtship violence, battering, i ntimate partner violence, and date rape (Saltzman, et al. 1999).&rdq uo; http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/factsheets/ipvfacts.htm



Rape is a crime which is a form of criminal sexual assault. Every state has its own definitions of rape (please see criminal sexual assault). For a definition of New York State law, please see NYS penal law article 130. In general, rape is actual or attempted penetration accomplished by threats, coercion, or physical force. It includes nonconsensual vaginal, anal, or oral penetration by penis, finger, or any object. In the following c ircumstances, actual or attempted penetration is rape, because under NYS law, it is impossible for the following to give consent: individuals who are under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances; who are physically helpless (including sleeping); who are under the age of 17; who are mentally incapacitated; and/or who are mentally disabled. Men and women, irrespective of sexual orientation, may be either perpetrators or victims. http://www.tapestri.org/sexual%20assault.html


Criminal Sexual Assault:

Criminal sexual assault is a crime which may include the following conduct:

  • Penetration or attempted penetration of the vagina by penis, finger, or object
  • Penetration or attempted penetration of the anus by penis, finger, or object
  • Penetration or attempted penetration of the mouth by penis, finger, or object
  • Nonconsensual touching of intimate body parts
Men and women, irrespective of sexual orientation, may be either perpetrators or victims. Some terms which describe other illegal and unacceptable behaviors?



To irritate or torment persistently.



To fill with fear. To coerce, inhibit, or discourage by or with threats.



To express an intention to inflict pain, injury, or harm.



To express an intention to inflict pain, injury, or harm.



Dell Publishing (1994). American Heritage Dictionary (3rd ed.). New York. Fisher, B., Cullen, F., and Turner, M. (2000). The sexual victimization of college women: Findings from two national-level studies. Washington, DC: National

[i] (Bureau of Justice Assistance, 1996).

[ii] (CALCASA Campus Violence Prevention Resource Guides p.28

[iii] (National Criminal Justice Association, 1993).

[iv] For discussions of stalking behaviors, see both Hall, _____ etc. 1998; and Orion, ___1997. [v] Levitz-Spitz, ____________.

"Stalking: Terrorism at our Doors - How Social Workers Can Help Victims Fight Back, Social Work, October 2003, 58(4) p. 504.

Institute of Justice and Bureau of Justice Statistics. [On-line]. Available: http://www.ncjrs.org/pdffiles1/nij/182369.pdf