Deliberate contact, sexual in nature, that consists of:

  1. Cooperation in act and attitude
  2. Exercise of free will
  3. Knowledge of what’s happening

You must have all three components from the other person in order to obtain consent. Without consent, any sexual act is sexual assault.

A pattern of violent behavior or coercive control by a present or former relationship partner. Abusers use physical and sexual violence, threats, emotional insults, and economic deprivation as a way to dominate their partners.

One’s innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both, or neither; how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One’s gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth.

Socialization is the process of internalizing society’s values in order to adapt to one’s culture. It influences how people behave as males and females in society. The social learning process that imbibes people into understanding the various aspects of culture includes the process of gender socialization. Gender socialization encompasses the process of learning society’s gender roles and their advantages and limitations.

An umbrella term for violence that happens between people, particularly, forms of violence that are often gendered and/or sexual in nature. Interpersonal violence includes, but is not synonymous with, rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and stalking.

A set of cultural and societal norms in the United States that teach men to have certain beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. Although individuals have a chance to resist and conform to notions of masculinities, almost all men in the United States are subjected to the same set of values. In general, men are expected to be tough, strong, aggressively heterosexual, emotionless (except anger), be swoll, be the bread-winner, handle your business, don’t cry, like sports, guns, and cars, be rugged, aloof, carefree, funny, confident, drink beer, and more. These expectations have a long history in the United States and have wide ranging impacts that can take a lifetime to understand.

  • The length of the relationship
  • The type of relationship
  • The frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship

Any completed or attempted unwanted vaginal, oral, or anal penetration through the use of physical force (such as being pinned or held down, or by the use of violence) or threats to physically harm and includes times when the victim was drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent. Rape is separated into three types, completed forced penetration, attempted forced penetration, and completed alcohol or drug facilitated penetration.

Among women, rape includes vaginal, oral, or anal penetration by a male using his penis. It also includes vaginal, oral or anal penetration by a male or female using their fingers or an object.

Among men, rape includes oral or anal penetration by a male using his penis. It also includes oral or anal penetration by a male or female using their fingers or an object.

Rape is a type of sexual assault.

Rape Supportive Culture (RSC) is our collective attitude about sexual violence. Although this term contains the word “rape,” the concept is meant to encompass all forms of violent behavior (stalking, sexual harassment, sexual assault, street harassment, voyeurism/peeping, etc.). Tolerating, excusing, or making light of sexual violence through our language and actions keeps rape supportive culture alive. Common phrases that describe sex like a sport such as “hit that, smashing, banging, screwing, tapping, scoring” are not isolated incidents of problematic language. They are part of an overwhelming societal view that normalizes violence which is rape supportive culture. It is also important to recognize that we each participate in RSC on an individual level. Understanding how we contribute requires reflection about our own implicit biases and the ways we are silent in the face of oppressive and dehumanizing language.

Sex refers to a person’s sex assigned at birth and is often described using words such as male, female, or intersex. There are a number of indicators that the medical field uses to determine the sex they assign at birth, including sex chromosomes, gonads, internal reproductive organs, and external genitalia.

Sexual assault is any sexual contact without consent and may include touching of intimate body areas, intercourse, or penetration.

Sexual assault is also:

  • a violation of a person’s physical and emotional well being.
  • a crime prosecutable under Colorado law.
  • an act of power and control.
  • sexual assault is NOT an expression of love, passion, or sexual desire.
  • sexual assault is NOT your fault.

Many people use “rape” and sexual assault synonymously. Rape is a type of sexual assault. We separate them out because we believe this is part of the process of examining the dynamics of sexual violence. If we view “rape” and “sexual assault” as the same, it could minimize or make invisible other forms of sexual assault.

Harassment that is of an implicitly or overtly sexual nature, or is based on a person’s actual or perceived sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Sexual harassment, including sexual assault, can involve persons of the same or opposite sex, and includes any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other conduct of a sexual nature.

A course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. It can, in some cases, lead to sexual assault.

Survivor refers to anyone who has been harmed as a result of gender-based violence and has survived the incident(s). Since language has the ability to help or hinder the healing process, using “survivor” is a hopeful attempt to bring to center the agency and resiliency of those who have experienced a trauma. It is most often used by other survivors, advocates, counselors, and activists who walk with someone as they navigate the after effect of trauma.

Victim is a legal term which may be used intentionally to emphasize that sexual violence is a crime with a spectrum of damaging and enduring effects whether or not the act(s) are reported to or adjudicated in the campus administrative, the criminal justice, or the civil systems. Additionally, it is used to signify people who have experienced abuse who are no longer alive.

At times, the term victim may also be used to underscore that violence and trauma do not occur in vacuums but in the context of societies and cultures where they are experienced. Ideally, it removes the focus from the individual and their response to a traumatic event and situates it onto the societal contexts where biased systems, structures, and ideologies reproduce oppression and further compound trauma.

Individual trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.

Some of our sources:



Susan Schechter, as quoted by Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence