Defining interpersonal violence
For some helpful information, additional definitions and guidelines, visit NotAlone.gov. The following definitions should be helpful, but are not legal definitions of these terms.
Interpersonal violence encompasses the following:
- Relationship or dating violence
- Sexual assault
- Family violence
- Physical violence
- Emotional violence
- Cyber bullying/Online harassment
Some helpful terms that act as a role in interpersonal violence:
This term is used when a pattern of controlling behavior of a partner is evidenced
in a relationship. 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. The abuse can be emotional, physical, sexual or any combination thereof.
Victims are often unaware that they are in an abusive relationship. Leaving this kind
of relationship is extremely difficult, often requiring counseling and a great deal
For more information visit our Dating Violence page.
Sexual Assault refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person's will
or where a person is incapable of giving consent (e.g., due to the student's age or
use of drugs or alcohol, or because an intellectual or other disability prevents the
student from having the capacity to give consent). A number of different acts fall
into the category of sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery,
sexual abuse, and sexual coercion. Sexual violence can be carried out by school employees,
other students, or third parties. All such acts of sexual violence are forms of sex
discrimination prohibited by Title IX. Taken from the United States Department of Education.
For more information visit our Sexual Assault page.
Harassment is any form of unwanted and offensive behavior. This can include physical
conduct or written or verbal derogatory or discriminatory statements. Harassment can
interfere with an individual's employment, academic performance, university participation,
or emotional state. It can create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.
For more information visit our Harassment page.
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.
For more information visit our Stalking page.
Family Violence can include emotional , physical, and sexual violence by one family or household member on another. Family Violence effects everyone not just the victim. Children who grow up in violent homes greatly risk the possibility of emotional, behavioral and physical problems that last for a lifetime. Depression; anxiety; violence toward peers; suicide attempt; drug & alcohol abuse and running away from home are just some of the issues that stem from the violence in the home.
Physical abuse is contact of one person on another intended to cause unwanted feelings of physical pain, injury, or other physical suffering. Scratching, punching, biting, strangling or kicking are a few examples. Physical violence does not have to leave an external mark to be reported.
Emotional violence is behavior which does not give mutual importance and respect to another person's feelings. It is often the most difficult to pinpoint or identify. Emotional violence includes the refusal to listen to, or denial of, another person's feelings, telling people what they do or do not feel, and ridiculing or shaming their feelings. It happens when one person believes they have a right to control or dominate another person.
For more information visit our Bullying page.
Cyber bullying is using the Internet, mobile phone or other digital technologies to harm others. Cyber bullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and can reach a person even when he or she is alone. It can happen any time of the day or night. Cyber bullying messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience; it can be very difficult to delete once it is posted.
The presence of consent involves explicit communication and mutual approval for the
act in which the parties are/were involved. Consent is clear, knowing and voluntary.
Silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as consent. A sexual encounter is
considered consensual when individuals willingly, knowingly, and mutually engage in
Consent MUST BE: informed, voluntary, freely and actively given, person had 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.
The use of alcohol and other drugs can have unintended consequences for both parties involved. Alcohol and other drugs can create an atmosphere of confusion over whether consent is freely and affirmatively given. The use of alcohol and other drugs never makes someone at fault for being sexually assaulted. When both parties are under the influence of alcohol or other substances or is intoxicated, the individual who initiated sexual contact is identified as the aggressor. The use of alcohol or other drugs will never function as a defense for any behavior that violates a person's rights.