The University of Utah supports survivors of sexual assault and opposes all forms of sexual misconduct. The following list provides an introduction to terms related to sexual misconduct.
Many university definitions can be found in Rule 1-012: Discrimination Complaint Rule.
For assistance or further information about definitions under university policy, contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action/Title IX.
Consent means affirmative, unambiguous, and voluntary agreement. Many people are familiar with the advice that "no means no" when it comes to sexual contact with another person. This is true, but we believe that even better advice is to always consider "yes means yes" and would advise not proceeding with sexual contact of any kind without this affirmation. Note that an individual cannot give consent if they are asleep or incapacitated and that consent is not voluntary when given under threat. Consent is NOT given when:
- Force, coercion, intimidation, or threats are used
- A person holds a position of significant influence over another person
- A person is asleep or unconscious
- A person is mentally or physically incapacitated or impaired; this includes impairment or incapacitation due to alcohol or drug consumption
- There has been past consent to a sexual activity
- There is silence or the absence of resistance
- To learn more about consent, visit these pages:
Intimate partner violence means actual or threatened physical violence, intimidation or other forms of physical or sexual abuse that would cause a reasonable person to fear harm to self or others.
An “intimate relationship” could be marriage, domestic partnership, engagement, casual or serious romantic involvement, and dating, whether in a current or former relationship.
Intimate partner violence can occur between persons of any sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or gender expression and can occur in any type of intimate relationship including monogamous, non-committed, and relationships involving more than two partners.
Intimate partner violence can be a single act or a pattern of behavior. Intimate partner violence is sometimes referred to as, and includes behaviors that would be considered, dating violence, domestic violence or relationship abuse. Examples of intimate partner violence include, but are not limited to, situations in which the following behaviors are directed toward a partner in a current or former intimate relationship: hitting, kicking, strangling or other violence; property damage; and threat of violence to one's self, one's partner or the family members, friends, pets, or personal property of the partner.
Intimate partner violence is a form of sexual misconduct.
Dating or domestic violence is a pattern of assaulting and controlling behavior that seeks to gain or maintain power in a relationship. The perpetrator may act to create fear or humiliation through physical, sexual, emotional or psychological abuse. Many people think that if their partner isn't physically abusing them they aren't in an abusive relationship. Abuse can take on various forms. The only difference between physical abuse and emotional abuse is that the injuries aren't visible.
To learn more about intimate partner violence, visit these pages:
Sexual or gender-based harassment means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature or based on an individual’s sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or gender expression when:
- Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of the person’s employment, education, living environment, health care, or participation in a university program or activity.
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for or a factor in decisions affecting that individual’s employment, education, living environment, or participation in a university program or activity.
- Such conduct has the purpose or effect of interfering with an individual’s employment or education or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for that individual’s employment, education, living environment, or participation in a university program or activity.
Microaggressions are everyday verbal or nonverbal slights or insults, intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to a marginalized group or member of that group. Microaggressions can be considered harassment and discrimination. Examples of microaggressions:
- Someone tells a trans woman she is “beautiful for a trans woman.” This implies that transgender women are inherently less beautiful than cisgender women.
- Someone tells a woman that she is “too pretty to be a science major.” This implies that pretty women must be unintelligent and that women in science must be unattractive.
- Someone uses the phrase “that’s so gay.” This implies that being gay is a bad thing.
- An Asian-American person is told their English is really good. This implies the individual is not a true American and will always be a considered a foreigner.
Physical violence is any behavior, action, or statement that is threatening or intimidating and causes any individual to fear for their safety and/or property. Such violence may be in the form of, but not limited to:
- Causing or attempting to cause bodily injury or intimidation to another person
- Intentionally destroying or damaging any property, public, or private
- Approaching or threatening another with a weapon
- Making any oral, written or physical gesture as a threat to harm any person or property
University policy defines nonconsensual sexual penetration as the sexual penetration of any bodily opening with any object or body part without consent. This could be committed by force, threat, intimidation, or through exploitation of another’s mental or physical condition (such as lack of consciousness, incapacitation due to drugs or alcohol, age or disability) of which the respondent was actually aware or which a reasonable person in the respondent’s position should have been aware. Nonconsensual sexual penetration is a form of sexual misconduct. Rape is a criminal term that means the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim. Rape is a specific form of sexual assault and may include other acts of sexual intercourse. To learn more about rape, visit these pages: Utah Law United States Department of Justice
Nonconsensual sexual contact means any physical contact with another person of a sexual nature without that person’s consent. The touching of a person’s intimate parts (such as genitalia, groin, breast, buttocks, mouth, or clothing covering same); touching a person with one’s own intimate parts; or forcing a person to touch another’s intimate parts would be violations of this policy if they occur without consent. Nonconsensual sexual contact is a form of sexual misconduct.
Rape culture is a culture in which sexual assault is normalized through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of bodies, and the trivialization of sexual violence. To learn more about rape culture, visit Educational Resources.
University policy prohibits retaliation against an individual for having made a complaint, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, hearing, or proceeding under the university’s nondiscrimination policies or for interfering with the rights of individuals under the university’s nondiscrimination policies.
Examples of retaliation include:
- Demoting, disciplining or harassing an employee because the employee files or reports discrimination or sexual misconduct.
- Interfering with witnesses or others who may be interviewed as part of an investigation.
- Questioning the reporter about why they filed a complaint.
- Having someone else interfere on your behalf.
If you believe you have experienced discriminatory conduct, including sexual misconduct or retaliation, you may file a complaint with the Office of Equal Opportunity & Affirmative Action.
Sexual assault is the actual or attempted sexual contact with another person without that person’s consent. Sexual assault can include:
- Intentional touching of another person’s intimate parts without that person’s consent.
- Other intentional sexual contact with another person without that person’s consent.
- Coercing, forcing, or attempting to coerce or force a person to touch another person’s intimate parts without that person’s consent.
- Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus of a person by any object or body part of another person without that person’s consent.
- Penetration, no matter how slight, of the mouth of a person by a sex organ of another person, without that person’s consent.
Sexual exploitation means taking sexual advantage of another person and includes, without limitation: indecent exposure; causing or attempting to cause the incapacitation of another person in order to gain a sexual advantage over him or her; causing the prostitution of another person; recording, photographing, or transmitting images of private sexual activity and/or the intimate parts of another person without consent; allowing third parties to observe private sexual acts without consent; engaging in voyeurism without consent; and knowingly or recklessly exposing another person to a significant risk of sexually transmitted infection, including HIV. Sexual exploitation is a form of sexual misconduct. Utah Law
Sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. It can unreasonably interfere with an individual’s employment or educational performance or create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.
To learn more about sexual harassment, visit these pages:
Sexual misconduct is a broad term used to encompass a range of behaviors including sexual or gender-based harassment, intimate partner violence, sexual exploitation, stalking, nonconsensual sexual contact, and nonconsensual sexual penetration.
Sexual misconduct also includes the crimes of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking as defined by state and federal law. Sexual misconduct is a form of sex discrimination.
To learn more about sexual misconduct, visit this page:
Stalking means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person and based on that’s person’s sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or gender expression, that would cause a reasonable person to fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress. Stalking is a form of sexual misconduct. Stalking can include harassment in-person or via technology, such as social media.
To learn more about stalking, visit these pages:
Threats are an expression of intention to inflict injury or damage. Intimidation includes stalking or engaging in actions that frighten, coerce, or induce duress in a person regarding their safety or personal property. This can include threats to friends or family members, or threats based on statuses related to: citizenship, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, income, sexual identity, sexual expression, etc. To learn more about threats and intimidation, visit these pages: University Policy Utah Law