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Definitions of Interpersonal Violence

Defining Interpersonal Violence

The following definitions should be helpful, but aren't legal definitions of these terms:

Interpersonal violence encompasses the following:

  • Sexual assault
  • Relationship or dating violence
  • Online harassment
  • Stalking
  • Bullying

More information defining acts of interpersonal violence can be found by visiting the Policies and Procedures webpage and the University's Title IX webpage.

Sexual Assault/Misconduct: Any forcible sexual activity that occurs without the victim's consent.  Behaviors include unwanted touching, kissing, rape and other sexual contact. May happen with someone with whom the victim has had previous sexual relations.  

Consent must be:

  • Informed
  • Voluntary
  • Freely and actively given
  • Person has the right to change his/her mind at ANY time.

Consent is NOT: 

  • Assumed
  • Based on Body language
  • Dating does not mean there is consent to have sex
  • Consent for one act does not mean consent for all sexual acts
  • Obtained by use of physical force, compelling threats, intimidating behavior or coercion
  • Decided when under the influence of alcohol or substances

Relationship or Dating Violence: This term is used when a pattern of behavior is evidenced in a relationship to control a partner.  The abusive behavior can be incremental over time resulting in the abused partner being isolated from others or made to feel incompetent, ashamed or guilt-ridden about doing any of his/her own work first. The abuse can be emotional, physical, sexual or any combination thereof. Leaving this kind of relationship is extremely difficult, often requiring counseling and a great deal of support.

Harassment:  Harassment comes in many forms, ranging from verbal, written, physical, to electronic.  It is when someone intentionally and repeatedly harasses another person, annoys or pesters another person(s), follows or by engaging in a course of conduct that places such person in reasonable fear of physical injury.

Electronic Harassment: Deliberate, persistent and unwanted methodical communication that disturbs the recipient and is made via electronic means. This includes emails, instant messages, texts, chat room appearances or websites frequented by the targeted person. These communications are unwanted, unsolicited and repetitive, and may also target the victim's family and friends. The New York State University Police at Binghamton and the Computer Center can assist students with these situations.

Stalking: Stalking refers to repeated harassing or threatening behavior by an individual. It may take the form of following a person, appearing at a person's home or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or objects or vandalizing a person's property. Any unwanted contact between two people that directly or indirectly communicates a threat or causes the victim to feel fear can be considered stalking; however, the legal definition of stalking varies from state to state.

Examples of stalking include:

  • Simple obsession stalking
  • Love obsession stalking
  • Intimate partner stalking
  • Casual acquaintance stalking
  • Stranger stalking
  • Delusional stalking
  • Serial stalking
  • False stalking/false victims
  • Erotomania
  • Cyberstalking

Some forms of stalking are considered crimes: harassment, aggravated harassment, larceny, criminal mischief and assault are some examples. You can report stalking crimes to the University Police.

Links to several sites offering additional information on stalking can be found on our Resources webpage.

Bullying: Bullying is aggressive behavior that involves unwanted, negative actions; a pattern of behavior repeated over time; and an imbalance of power or strength. Bullying can take on various forms.

Types include:

  • Verbal bullying including derogatory comments and bad names
  • Bullying through social exclusion or isolation
  • Physical bullying such as hitting, kicking, shoving and spitting
  • Bullying through lies and false rumors
  • Having money or other things taken or damaged by those who bully
  • Being threatened or forced to do things you don't want to do
  • Racial bullying
  • Sexual bullying
  • Cyber bullying (using the Internet, mobile phone or other digital technologies to harm others)

Some forms of bullying are considered crimes: harassment, aggravated harassment, larceny, criminal mischief and assault are some examples. Report bullying crimes to the University Police.

Links to several sites offering additional information on bullying can be found on our Resources webpage.



Counseling at Binghamton University

Interpersonal Violence Prevention

New York State University Police

Decker Student Health Services Center

University Counseling Center

Harpur's Ferry

Crime Victims Assistance Center
607-722-4256 (24/7 hotline)

1-800-656-HOPE (4673)


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Last Updated: 10/20/14