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Public Safety | Sexual Assault Definitions

Sexual Assault Definitions

Definitions of sexual assault may differ by state laws and university policies.  The below definitions are meant to serve as basic guidelines.  Survivors wishing to pursue legal action against their attackers should contact an attorney for state specific legal definitions.

Acquaintance rape: Forced, manipulated, or coerced sexual contact by someone a victim knows. A survivor may have been acquainted with the perpetrator for a short period of time or may have known them for several years. Acquaintance rape is the most common form of sexual assault on college campuses.

Stranger rape: Unwanted sex forced on a victim by an assailant whom the victim has never met.

Sexual Assault: Conduct of a sexual or indecent nature toward another person that is accompanied by actual or threatened physical force or that induces fear, shame, or mental suffering. Includes any form of sexual conduct that is not consented to by both parties.

Unwanted Sexual Contact & Misconduct: Any unwanted sex act that includes unwanted touching, gestures and/or comments. This also includes posting inappropriate pictures on websites or online profiles and voyeurism (videotaping someone without their consent).

Intimate Partner Violence: The Family Violence Prevention Fund defines intimate partner violence as a continuum of behaviors ranging from verbal and emotional abuse, economic exploitation, threats, sexual and physical assaults and homicide. These behaviors happen repeatedly and without proper intervention may result in death. (www.endabuse.org).

Stalking: Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. Stalking can take place in person, over the phone, on the internet, or any other form of contact. Stalking is serious, often violent, and can escalate over time. No two stalking situations are alike.

If you are being stalked on campus and the perpetrator is located outside of the District of Columbia, you still have rights and can file for an Order of Protection. For more information, contact Chief Kelvin Contee at (202) 884-9111.

For more information on stalking, and to find more support resources, go to the National Center for Victims of Crime Stalking Resource Center.


Contact the Department of Public Safety at 202-884-9111.

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