The Center for Empowerment and Education : Defining the Issues

Interpersonal Violence

What is Sexual Violence?

Definition: Sexual violence is any unwanted sexual activity done against someone’s will and without their consent. This can involve force and/or coercion, and is based in power and control.

This includes:

  • Exposure to inappropriate materials (pornographic pictures or videos, flashing, or exhibitionism)
  • Sexual contact (unwanted touches)
  • Sexual harassment
  • Rape: actual or attempted vaginal, oral, or anal penetration by an object, body part, or ejaculated bodily fluid.
  • Non-consensual image sharing
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Sex trafficking/sexual exploitation

What is Sexual Harassment?

Definition: Sexual Harassment is any unwanted or unwelcome behavior that is sexual or sexist in nature, is severe or pervasive, and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational or employment environment.

This can include:

  • Sexual flirtation, touching, advances or propositions
  • Verbal abuse of a sexual nature
  • Pressure to engage in sexual activity
  • Graphic or suggestive comments about an individual’s dress or appearance
  • Use of sexually degrading words to describe an individual
  • Display of sexually suggestive objects, pictures or photographs
  • Sexual jokes or stereotypical comments based upon gender
  • Threats, demands or suggestions that retention of one’s educational status is contingent upon toleration of or acquiescence in sexual advances.

What is Dating Abuse?

Definition: The intentional use of a pattern of destructive behaviors, in an intimate relationship, by one person to exert power and control over their partner.

  • Also known as, “dating violence,” “intimate partner violence”, “domestic violence,” or “family violence.”
  • Types of Abuse:
    • Emotional abuse: manipulation, guilt tripping, possessiveness, controlling behaviors, gaslighting, lying/cheating, blaming, threats (to oneself or their partner), etc.
    • Physical abuse: kicking, punching, shoving, slapping, restraining, hitting, driving recklessly with the intent to scare, threats of violence, etc.
    • Verbal abuse: belittling, mocking, insulting, shouting, cursing, etc.
    • Financial abuse: controlling finances, monitoring spending, pressured spending, restricting access to finances, stealing, etc.
    • Sexual abuse: pressuring, reasoning, manipulating, guilt tripping, blaming, forcing, blackmailing, etc.
  • Assaulting, threatening, or stalking an intimate partner is a crime in the state of Connecticut.

What is Stalking?

Definition: A course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear or experience emotional distress. Stalking is serious, often violent, and can escalate over time.

  • It involves repeatedly contacting another person when the contacting person knows or should know that the contact is unwanted.
  • Contacting includes communicating with or remaining in the physical presence of the other person.
  • Stalking behaviors include unwanted communication in person, through technology (social media, texting, phone calls, etc) or through a third party (family, friends, etc).
  • It can also include contacting third parties in an attempt to connect to the victim (contacting friends/family/roommates, etc. of the victim)