Definitions for Voice banner


What is Sexual Violence?

Sexual violence can be defined as any unwanted sexual attention, contact, or activity without consent. Sexual violence serves as an umbrella term for power-based violence that includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, intimate partner or dating violence, and stalking.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is characterized by severe or pervasive unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment may be occurring when:

  • The conduct is made as a term or condition of an individual's employment, education, living environment or participation in the campus community.
  • The acceptance or refusal of such conduct is used as the basis or a factor in decisions affecting an individual's employment, education, living environment, or participation in the campus community.
  • The conduct unreasonably impacts an individual's employment or academic performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for that individual's employment, education, living environment, or participation in the campus community.

Examples of unwanted behavior that may constitute sexual harassment  include, but are not limited to:

  • Massaging a person’s neck or shoulders
  • Touching a person’s clothing, hair, or body
  • Hugging, kissing, patting, or stroking a person’s body
  • Making sexual gestures with hands or body movements, touching or rubbing oneself in a sexual manner around, or in the view of another person
  • Brushing up against another person
  • Tearing, pulling, or yanking a person’s clothing
  • Sexual flirtation, advances or propositions for sexual activity, or repeatedly asking for a date from a person who has indicated he or she is not interested
  • Discussing or about sexual fantasies, preferences, or history
  • Verbal abuse of a sexual nature
  • Suggestive comments and sexually explicit jokes, or turning discussions at work or in academic or living settings to sexual topics when not legitimately related to an academic matter
  • Stating, indicating, or implying in any manner that benefits will be gained or lost based on response to sexual advances
  • Staring repeatedly at someone; repeatedly watching someone from afar
  • Blocking another person’s path or otherwise restricting their movements, particularly when in conjunction with other acts or comments
  • Invading a person’s personal body space, such as standing closer than appropriate
  • Looking a person up and down in a suggestive or intimidating manner
  • Making sounds such as smacking or licking lips, making kissing sounds, or whistling
  • Letters, gifts, or materials of a sexual nature, including but not limited to typed or handwritten notes, email, instant messages, text messages, online postings, etc.
  • Request for a sexual favor in exchange for a better grade or promotion

A victim does not have to tell the perpetrator to stop the behavior or conduct for it to be considered harassment.

Intent vs. Impact

Sexual harassment is assessed based on the impact it has, not the intention. An individual may not intend to harass the victim, but if the victim feels uncomfortable then the behavior can be seen as sexual harassment.

Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate partner violence consists of any physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. Although we categorize it under sexual violence, intimate partner violence does not assume that partners have engaged in sexual activity.

Intimate partner violence is often characterized by:

Physical abuse is the intentional use of physical force with the potential for causing death, disability, injury, or harm. Physical violence includes, but is not limited to:
     • Pushing, hitting, choking, kicking, biting, cutting, burning, spitting
     • Holding you down or preventing you from leaving the room
     • Throwing objects at you
     • Threatening you with a weapon
     • Locking you in or out of the house
     • Abandoning you in dangerous places
     • Preventing you from getting sleep or waking you up out of sleep
     • Endangering you by driving wildly or recklessly

Sexual abuse is divided into three categories: 1) use of physical force to compel a person to engage in a sexual act against his or her will, whether or not the act is completed; 2) attempted or completed sex act involving a person who is unable to understand the nature or condition of the act, to decline participation, or to communicate unwillingness to engage in the sexual act, e.g., because of illness, disability, or the influence of alcohol or other drugs, or because of intimidation or pressure; and 3) abusive sexual contact. Sexual abuse includes, but is not limited to:
     • Treating you as a sex object
     • Criticizing the way you act during sex
     • Withholding sex and affection
     • Forcing you to have sex when you do not want to
     • Forcing you to have sex with other people
     • Forcing you to have sex after an argument or attack
     • Calling you a "whore" after sex
     • Insisting on unwanted or uncomfortable touching
     • Forcing you to have sex then telling you that you "wanted it"
     • Telling and bragging about sex with other women
     • Threats of physical or sexual abuse: use words, gestures, or weapons to communicate the intent to cause death, disability, injury, or physical harm.

Psychological/emotional abuse involves trauma to the victim caused by acts, threats of acts, or coercive tactics. Psychological/emotional abuse can include, but is not limited to, humiliating the victim, controlling what the victim can and cannot do, withholding information from the victim, deliberately doing something to make the victim feel diminished or embarrassed, isolating the victim from friends and family, and denying the victim access to money or other basic resources. It is considered psychological/emotional violence when there has been prior physical or sexual violence or prior threat of physical or sexual violence. Psychological/emotional abuse includes, but is not limited to:
     • Ignoring your feelings
     • Making fun of your beliefs
     • Manipulating you with lies
     • Degrading women as a group
     • Calling you derogatory names
     • Telling you that you're stupid, dumb, fat, or ugly
     • Refusing to take you places
     • Isolating you from your friends and family
     • Constantly criticizing you and the way you do things
     • Making fun of your friends and family
     • Threatening to leave you or making you leave
     • Threatening to hurt your family
     • Threatening to harm or harming your pets
     • Threatening to take your children


It is a violation of the Georgia Tech Policy on Student Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Harassment, Stalking, and Intimate Partner Violence to engage in any form of sexual activity or conduct involving another person without the consent of the other person.