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Definition of Terms

Sexual Assault

Any form of sexual activity that has been forced by one person upon another. Without consent, it is sexual assault. Sexual assault can happen between people of the same or opposite sex. It includes any unwanted act of a sexual nature such as kissing, fondling, oral sex, intercourse or other forms of penetration, either vaginal or anal.

Consent

Under Canada’s Criminal Code, consent is defined as a voluntary agreement of the complainant to engage in the sexual activity in question (Section 273.1).

CONSENT is when: 

  • The individuals have indicated that they are interested in having sex.
  • Everybody involved is clearly capable of making an informed decision of their own free will.

There is NO consent when:

Your acquaintance/friend/date/partner is passed out (or asleep) or is incoherent, staggering, or not aware of his/her environment.

  • Consent/permission has been given on behalf of another person. 
  • Sexual contact would be an abuse of power, trust, or authority.
  • You think you have consent because they are not resisting. Apparent compliance can come from fear or an inability to verbalize or fight back due to intoxication from alcohol and/or drugs. 
  • You don't think the person would agree to sex if they were sober. 
  • You and your acquaintance/friend/date/partner have never talked about having sex together before now - when you are intoxicated - and you don't know what the person would want. 
  • Your acquaintance/friend/date/partner has indicated (verbally or non-verbally) that they are not interested. 
  • Even though you and the person have had sex before, they said that they weren’t interested tonight. 
  • Someone has stated what they are comfortable with, but when they are intoxicated to the point where they are unable to articulate permission, you go farther than they agreed to. 
  • You are not sure.

Coercion

Using pressure, threats and/or intimidation to force another to engage in sexual activity. Some examples of coercion are: 

  • Constantly putting pressure on someone or refusing to take no for an answer 
    Making someone feel guilty ("If you love me, you'll...")
  • Threatening to withhold something or do something to make someone comply ("I'll breakup with you...", "I'll tell everyone you...")
  • Being emotionally manipulative ("I can't live without you...", threatening to harm one's self)
  • Using physical or verbal intimidation to force someone into submitting or complying (not allowing someone to leave, previous or implied threats of violence)

Sexualized Violence

An act of violence, and aggression characterized by an attempt to threaten, intimidate, coerce or engage in any unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature, which involves a violation of one's sexual integrity. Examples include, but are not limited to, creating and/or sharing images non-consensually, sexual harassment, stalking or voyeurism. Sexual violence includes, but is not limited to sexual assault and other sexual offences included in the Criminal Code of Canada.

Rape Culture

Is a culture in which rape and other forms of sexualized harassment/violence is prevalent and in which violence against women is normalized and excused in popular culture, the media, society, and laws.  Rape culture is validated and perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization and minimization of sexualized violence, thereby creating a society that is desensitized to sexualized violence and that disregards women’s rights and safety. Within rape culture masculinity is a set of learned cultural characteristics, values, and behaviours that contribute to a culture where using sexual force over women is permissible and often expected and rewarded. Victims of rape and assault are blamed and made to feel embarrassed, ashamed and guilty about the violence perpetrated against them (victim blaming). Social forces like these lead to low reporting and conviction rates.

Sexual Integrity

Sexual integrity refers to the inviolable nature of a person's sexuality which can be compromised by sexualized violence. It does not, in any way, make reference to the morality of a person.