DOMESTIC/DATING VIOLENCE, STALKING & SEXUAL VIOLENCE POLICY What is sexual violence? Sexual violence (SV) is any sexual act that is perpetrated against someone's will. SV encompasses a range of offenses, including a completed nonconsensual sex act (i.e., rape), an attempted nonconsensual sex act, abusive sexual contact (i.e., unwanted touching), and non-contact sexual abuse (e.g., threatened sexual violence, exhibitionism, verbal sexual harassment). These four types are defined in more detail below. All types involve victims who do not consent, or who are unable to consent or refuse to allow the act. A completed sex act is defined as contact between the penis and the vulva or the penis and the anus involving penetration, however slight; contact between the mouth and penis, vulva, or anus; or penetration of the anal or genital opening of another person by a hand, finger, or other object. An attempted (but not completed) sex act Abusive sexual contact is defined as intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person without his or her consent, or of a person who is unable to consent or refuse. Non-contact sexual abuse does not include physical contact of a sexual nature between the perpetrator and the victim. It includes acts such as voyeurism; intentional exposure of an individual to exhibitionism; unwanted exposure to pornography; verbal or behavioral sexual harassment; threats of sexual violence to accomplish some other end; or taking nude photographs of a sexual nature of another person without his or her consent or knowledge, or of a person who is unable to consent or refuse. Why is a Consistent Definition Important? A consistent definition is needed to monitor the incidence of SV and examine trends over time. In addition, it helps determine the magnitude of SV and compare the problem across jurisdictions. A consistent definition also helps researchers measure risk and protective factors for victimization in a uniform manner. This ultimately informs prevention and intervention efforts. (Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/sexualviolence/definitions.html) For New Jersey's legal statutes on sexual offenses, click HERE. What is sexual assault? What is sexual assault? Sexual assault and abuse is any type of sexual activity that you do not agree to, including: Inappropriate touching Vaginal, anal, or oral penetration Rape Attempted rape Child molestation Sexual assault can be verbal, visual, or anything that forces a person to join in unwanted sexual contact or attention. Examples of this are voyeurism (when someone watches private sexual acts), exhibitionism (when someone exposes him/herself in public), incest (sexual contact between family members), and sexual harassment. It can happen in different situations: in the home by someone you know, on a date, or by a stranger in an isolated place. Rape is a common form of sexual assault. It is committed in many situations — on a date, by a friend or an acquaintance, or when you think you are alone. Educate yourself on “date rape” drugs. They can be slipped into a drink when a victim is not looking. Never leave your drink unattended — no matter where you are. Attackers use date rape drugs to make a person unable to resist assault. These drugs can also cause memory loss so the victim doesn’t know what happened. Rape and sexual assault are never the victim’s fault — no matter where or how it happens. (Credit: womenshealth.gov, 2014)For New Jersey's legal statutes on sexual offenses, click HERE. What is domestic and intimate partner violence? Domestic violence is when one person in a relationship purposely hurts another person physically or emotionally. Domestic violence is also called intimate partner violence because it often is caused by a husband, ex-husband, boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, wife, ex-wife, girlfriend, or ex-girlfriend. People of all races, education levels, and ages experience domestic abuse. In the United States, more than 5 million women are abused by an intimate partner each year. Domestic violence includes: Physical abuse like hitting, shoving, kicking, biting, or throwing things Emotional abuse like yelling, controlling what you do, or threatening to cause serious problems for you Sexual abuse like forcing you to do something sexual you don't want to do Here are some key points about domestic and intimate partner violence: If you are in immediate danger, you can call 911. It is possible for the police to arrest an abuser and to escort you and your children to a safe place. Learn more about getting help for domestic abuse. Often, abuse starts as emotional abuse and then becomes physical later. It's important to get help early. Sometimes it is hard to know if you are being abused. You can learn more about signs of abuse. Your partner may try to make you feel like the abuse is your fault. Remember that you cannot make someone mistreat you. The abuser is responsible for his or her behavior. Abuse can be a way for your partner to try to have control over you. Violence can cause serious physical and emotional problems, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. It's important to try to take care of your health. And if you are using drugs or alcohol to cope with abuse, get help. There probably will be times when your partner is very kind. Unfortunately, abusers often begin the mistreatment again after these periods of calm. In fact, over time, abuse often gets worse, not better. Even if your partner promises to stop the abuse, make sure to learn about hotlines and other ways to get help for abuse. An abusive partner needs to get help from a mental health professional. But even if he or she gets help, the abuse may not stop. (Credit: womenshealth.gov, 2014) For New Jersey's legal statues on domestic violence, click HERE. What is dating violence? Dating violence is when one person purposely hurts or scares someone they are dating. Dating violence happens to people of all races, cultures, incomes, and education levels. It can happen on a first date, or when you are deeply in love. It can happen whether you are young or old, and in heterosexual or same-sex relationships. Dating violence is always wrong, and you can get help. Dating violence includes: Physical abuse like hitting, shoving, kicking, biting, or throwing things Emotional abuse like yelling, name-calling, bullying, embarrassing, keeping you away from your friends, saying you deserve the abuse, or giving gifts to "make up" for the abuse. (Read more about emotional abuse.) Sexual abuse like forcing you to do something sexual (such as kissing or touching) or doing something sexual when you cannot agree to it (like when you are very drunk). (Read more about sexual attacks.) Dating violence often starts with emotional abuse. You may think that behaviors like calling you names or insisting on seeing you all the time are a "normal" part of relationships. But they can lead to more serious kinds of abuse, like hitting, stalking, or preventing you from using birth control. Learn more about the warning signs of abuse and the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships. Dating violence can cause serious harm to your body and your emotions. If you are in an abusive relationship, get help. (Credit: womenshealth.gov, 2014) For New Jersey's legal statues on domestic violence, click HERE. What is stalking? Stalking is contact (usually two or more times) from someone that makes you feel afraid or harassed. Examples of stalking include: Following or spying on you Sending you unwanted emails or letters Calling you often Showing up at your house, school, or work Leaving you unwanted gifts You can be stalked by a stranger, but most stalkers are people you know, like a boyfriend or ex-boyfriend. Sometimes, a current partner will stalk you by calling very often, texting constantly, or asking where you are all the time. These may be signs of an abusive relationship. Stalking is a crime and can be dangerous. To learn more about the laws against stalking, contact the National Center for Victims of Crime helpline. Stalking can be very frightening, and can make you feel out of control, anxious, and depressed. It can affect your ability to sleep, eat, and work. If you are being stalked, get support from people who care about you. (Credit: womenshealth.gov, 2014) For New Jersey's legal statues on stalking, click HERE.