Definitions

Definitions

​​​​​​​Below, you will find definitions for the following terms:

  • Intim​ate Partner Violence (Dating Violence, Domestic Violence)
  • Stalking
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Gender-based Harassment
  • Sexual Violence 

Intimate Partner Violence (Dating Violence, Domestic Violence)

A pattern of abusive behaviors used to exert power and control over a current or former partner. It can include emotional, sexual, verbal or economic actions, or physical threats of violence. Acts may include any behaviors that intimidate, isolate, manipulate, humiliate, coerce, frighten, blame or hurt someone. It can happen to anyone, regardless of race, sexual orientation, age, education, religion, etc.

There is often a pattern or repeated cycle of violence, starting with the first instance of abuse:

General Pattern of Behavior:

  • Tension Building: Relationship begins to get strained or tense between partners.
  • Explosion: Outburst that includes verbal, emotional, or physical abuse.
  • Honeymoon: Apologies where the abuser tries to re-connect with his/her partner by shifting the blame onto someone or something else.​

Signs that it could be intimate partner violence:

One person:
  • Constantly blames his/her boyfriend or girlfriend for everything, including his/her own abusive behavior/temper
  • Makes mean and degrading comments about a partner's appearance, beliefs or accomplishments
  • Constantly checks the other person's cell phone or email without permission
  • Monitors where the partner is going, who he/she is going with and what he/she is doing
  • Isolates the other partner from friends and family
  • Controls money and time
  • Shows extreme jealousy
  • Loses his/her temper
  • Physically and/or sexually assaults another
  • Damages the other person's property

The other person:
  • Gives up things that are important to him/her
  • Cancels plans with friends to appease the other person
  • Becomes isolated from family or friends
  • Worries about making his/her significant other angry
  • Shows signs of physical abuse like bruises or cuts
  • Feels embarrassed or ashamed about what is going on in his/her relationship
  • Consistently makes excuses for his/her significant other's behavior

Common Reactions:
Experiencing intimate partner violence can be a serious and frightening experience. The threat of repeated danger can be extremely upsetting. Here is a list of common feelings and reactions that survivors of intimate partner violence have reported:
  • Fearful
  • Vulnerable
  • Depressed
  • Confused
  • Isolated
  • Hopeless
  • Difficulty concentrating, sleeping or remembering things
  • Irritable
  • Impatient
  • On-edge
  • Nervous

Stalking

A pattern of unwanted conduct directed at another person that threatens or endangers the safety, physical or mental health, or life or property of that person, or creates a reasonable fear of such a threat or action.

Signs that it could be stalking:
  • Following you, with or without your knowledge
  • Calling or texting excessively
  • Knowing your schedule and/or showing up at places you go
  • Threatening to hurt you, your friends, family, pets, or themselves
  • Damaging your property
  • It can even look romantic or non-threatening, like cards, flowers, emails, etc., but if this behavior is unwanted, it could be stalking

An excellent resource is Stalking: A Handbook for Victims, by Emily Spence. It can be downloaded at: http://www.lawhelpnc.org/resource/stalking-a-handbook-for-victims.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature when it meets any of the following:
  • Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or academic status.
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions affecting such individual.
  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for working, learning, or living on campus. Sexual harassment can occur between any individuals associated with the University, e.g., an employee and a supervisor; coworkers; faculty members; a faculty, staff member, or student and a customer, vendor, or contractor; students; or a student and a faculty member.

Signs that it could be sexual harassment:
  • Sexual comments or inappropriate references to gender
  • Sexually explicit statements, questions, jokes, or anecdotes regardless of the means of communication (oral, written, electronic, etc.)
  • Unwanted touching, patting, hugging, brushing against a person's body, or staring
  • Inquiries or commentaries about sexual activity, experience, or orientation
  • Display of inappropriate or sexually oriented material in locations where others can view them
  • Offers of or demands for sex for jobs, promotions, money or other opportunities or rewards
  • Unwanted flirtation, advances, or propositions

Effects of Sexual Harassment
Being sexually harassed can devastate your psychological health, physical well-being and vocational development. Survivors who have been harassed often change their jobs, career goals, job assignments, educational programs or academic majors. In addition, survivors have reported psychological and physical reactions to being harassed that are similar to reactions to other forms of stress. They may include: 

Psychological Reactions
  • Depression, anxiety, shock, denial
  • Anger, fear, frustration, irritability
  • Insecurity, embarrassment, feelings of betrayal
  • Confusion, feelings of being powerless
  • Shame, self-consciousness, low self-esteem
  • Guilt, self-blame, isolation

Physiological Reactions 
  • Headaches
  • Lethargy
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Dermatological reactions
  • Weight fluctuations
  • Sleep Disturbances, nightmares
  • Phobias, panic reactions
  • Sexual problems

Career-Related Effects 
  • Decreased job satisfaction
  • Unfavorable performance evaluations
  • Loss of job or promotion
  • Drop in academic or work performance due to stress
  • Absenteeism
  • Withdrawal from work or school
  • Change in career goals

Gender-Based Harassment

Title IX also prohibits gender-based harassment, which may include acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping, even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature.

Sexual Violence

Physical Acts (such as rape, attempted rape, sexual touching and sexual battery) perpetrated against an individual without consent or who does not have the capacity to give knowing consent due to alcohol, drugs or disability.

Examples of Sexual Violence:
  • Any sexual activity performed in the absence of consent or through coercion
  • Forced oral, anal, or vaginal sex with any body part or object
  • Unwanted rough or violent sexual activity
  • Rape or attempted rape
  • Keeping someone from protecting themselves from unwanted pregnancies or STIs
  • Sexual contact with someone who is very drunk, drugged, unconscious or unable to give a clear and informed “yes”
  • Threatening or pressuring someone into sexual activity

Common reactions
Sexual assault can be one of the most painful and upsetting things that can happen in someone's life. It is natural if your emotions frequently fluctuate. Here is a list of common feelings and reactions that survivors of sexual violence have reported:
  • Wondering "why me?"
  • Fear
  • Anger or rage
  • Numbness or emptiness
  • Stomach ache
  • Headache
  • Difficulty sleeping/change in sleeping habits
  • Change in eating habits
  • Disbelief
  • Shame
  • Betrayal
  • Sense of loss
  • Loss of control
  • Nightmares
  • Guilt
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Feelings of withdrawal
  • Panic​
  • Relucta​n​ce to go to school/work