What is Sexual Violence

What is Sexual Violence?

As defined by the University’s Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment, sexual violence is “any sexual act or act targeting a person’s sexuality, gender identity or gender expression, whether the act is physical or psychological in nature, that is committed, threatened or attempted against a person without the person’s consent”.

The scope of sexual violence is broad and includes a range of behaviours. For example, it can be physical in nature such as forced kissing or it can be non-physical, such as harassing someone because of their gender identity.

Sexual violence can occur in private, in public or online, and among any two or more people regardless of their gender or sexuality.

A defining feature of sexual violence is the absence of consent. This means that the behaviour has not been discussed or agreed to by all parties, and that there is at least one person in the situation who has not said yes, either verbally or through physical gestures and behaviour, to the act in question.

What constitutes sexual violence depends on the circumstances and there are many possible examples. For example, sexual violence can include:

  • inappropriate and unwelcome physical contact of a sexual nature
  • sexual harassment
  • sexual abuse
  • sexual assault (including assault by a partner or marital partner)
  • stalking
  • indecent exposure
  • degrading sexual imagery
  • voyeurism
  • cyber sexual harassment
  • stealthing (removing a condom without consent during sex)