Sexual Violence Terms

Warning: Content on this page contains sensitive information including topics such as sexual violence. If you need immediate support, you can reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. You can also reach Between Friends at 800-603-HELP (4357).


Any act or conduct onto another person that: creates fear, has a detrimental effect on emotional or physical health, interferes with academic performance, interferes with ability to participate in activities.

The CPS anti-bullying policy states that bullying and harassment are prohibited: During school sponsored/sanctioned activities or events; on school property, busses, CPS transportation &CPS bus stops; through transmission on a CPS computer; through ANY electronic device on school property, CPS transportation or CPS bus stops; threats made to be carried out on CPS property, transportation or bus stops; when it is a Student Code of Conduct level 5 or 6 that occurs off campus that disrupts another students education.


Coercive control or coercive manipulation is a form of psychological/emotional abuse where the perpetrator displays a pattern of controlling or manipulative behaviors. 

Coercive Manipulation

Freely given agreement where the person is fully conscious and aware, equally free to react, can change from “Yes” to “No” at any time, communicate permission & willingness, positive and sincere in their desire, not saying “No” does not mean “Yes.” Illinois Law states that the legal age of consent is 17 years old. 

Criminal Sexual Abuse

Sexual conduct meeting one or more of the following criteria: using force or threat of force, sexual conduct with a victim who does not understand the act and/or cannot give consent, an act of penetration or conduct where the perpetrator is under 17 years old and the victim is between 9-17 years old, or an act of penetration or conduct where the victim is between 13-17 and the perpetrator is less than 5 years age difference from the victim. Non contact sexual abuse involves voyeurism, exposure and child pornography.

Sexual assault and sexual abuse are types of sexual violence. These two terms are very similar and have subtle legal differences and consequences.

Criminal Sexual Assault

Must involve penetration. In addition to penetration one or more of the following criteria must be met: the victim is unable to provide consent, the perpetrator uses force or threat of force, the victim is under 18 and the perpetrator is a family member, the victim is between 13-18 and the perpetrator is over 17 and in a position of power.

Sexual assault and sexual abuse are types of sexual violence. These two terms are very similar and have subtle legal differences and consequences.


Making decisions or actions based on a category a person belongs to rather than individual merit.


Unwelcome conduct based on a protected class: race, national origin, color, sex, age, disability, religion. Severe, pervasive or persistent and creates a hostile environment. For details, see CPS anti-bullying policy and laws about discrimination in the State of Illinois.


Sexual contact between people who are parents/child; uncles/aunts; niece/nephews; siblings; grandparents and some cousins. Incest is defined legally as sexual contact between two people who are so closely related that their marriage is illegal.

Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate partner violence (IPV), also referred to as domestic abuse, is when a person in a relationship intentionally harms the other person in some way.  IPV can be physical, psychological, or sexual.  Your partner doesn’t have to physically hurt you for the relationship to be unhealthy or abusive.


Any insertion in the sex organs of a person with a body part, sex organ or foreign object. The sex organs are the mouth, breasts, genital and anus.

Physical Abuse

Any intentional use of physical force with the intent to cause fear or injury, like hitting, shoving, biting, strangling, kicking or using a weapon.


Sex you do not agree to or give consent. Penetration is required to meet the definition of rape. Since sexual assault and abuse can both involve penetration rape can fit into both categories.

Rape Culture

A concept that links rape and sexual violence to the culture of a society. Rape culture normalizes, excuses, tolerates, or even condones rape. One way our society tolerates rape is by sexist and pro-rape comments made by men’s magazines and popular music. These comments and lyrics objectify women and glamorize violence.

Rape culture puts the responsibility on the woman to avoid rape rather than the perpetrator to prevent rape. Rape culture also takes the stigma from the word rape. Because of rape culture, rape is used in jokes. For example, in the following sentence, the word raped is used as a verb: someone did not get raped on a test because it was difficult or they got a bad grade.

Rape culture hurts society because it takes the seriousness away from the word rape. Rape is serious and that word should not be used casually. Rape jokes or desensitization are seen in all types of media and social media.

Sexual Conduct

Intentional touching or fondling for the purposes of sexual gratification.

Sexual Exploitation

Abusing someone’s vulnerability or trust for sexual purposes. Taking advantage of a person sexually for personal gain or profit.

Sexual Harassment

Unwanted and unwelcome sexual conduct such as jokes, physical contact, notes, electronic media such as text messages and social media. Sexual harassment can be intentional or unintentional.

Sexual Violence

A blanket term to describe sexual act or conduct that is against the law.

Statutory Rape

When the victim is unable to give consent, most typically this is when the victim is less than the age of consent (17 years old in Illinois).


Stalking is a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear, according to the Department of Justice. 


Stealthing, or non-consensual condom removal, is when a partner intentionally and secretly removes a condom during sex without the other partner’s consent. Stealthing is illegal and can lead to unwanted pregnancies and STIs. 

Victim Blaming

It tells the survivors that it was their fault for the sexual violence maybe because of the way they were dressed, that they were drinking or even if they have in the past been sexually active. Sexual violence is never the survivors fault.

Slut-shaming is a form a victim-blaming that shames women for being sexual, having multiple sexual partners, acting on sexual feelings or engaging in ‘taboo’ sex acts. Slut-shaming is sexist because these traits are typically okay for a man and expected but not for a woman. With sexual violence, the perpetrator is the only person to blame.

It is never the survivors fault. It does not matter what a person wears, what they drank or took, or how they acted. If a person does not or cannot give consent they cannot be blamed for what was done to them.