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Key Concepts

We hear and use many words to describe sexual violence and other crimes.  These definitions are provided so you can understand the College's definition of these terms.

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. 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.

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.

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.

Rape:  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 circumstances, 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.

Relationship violence: Relationship 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, emotional and/or sexual. It may include threats, enforced social isolation and/or humiliation, intimidation, harassment, emotional mistreatment or abuse, financial control, forced sex or making threats with regard to family, friends, and/or children. Some of the common terms used to describe relationship violence are courtship violence, battering, intimate partner violence, and dating violence or domestic violence.

Stalking: 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.