Understanding Key Terms

To help the Indiana University community better understand the university's stance on sexual violence, we've provided these university definitions for sexual violence key terms. We encourage you to explore additional resources and learn more about IU policies and U.S. laws.


Agreement or permission expressed through affirmative, voluntary words or actions that are mutually understandable to all parties involved.

  • Consent is given for a specific sexual act at a specific time and can be withdrawn at any time.
  • Consent cannot be coerced or compelled by duress, threat, or force.
  • Consent cannot be given by someone who, for any reason, cannot understand the facts, nature, extent, or implications of the sexual situation occurring, including, but not limited to, those who are under the legal age of consent, asleep, unconscious, mentally or physically impaired through the effects of drugs or alcohol, or mentally impaired due to an intellectual or other disability.
  • Consent cannot be assumed based on silence, the absence of “no” or “stop,” the existence of a prior or current relationship, or prior sexual activity.


The university's policy states that names of individuals involved in sexual misconduct cases will not be disclosed by the university, except on a need-to-know basis or as required by law. Confidentiality is not the same as anonymity—which means not being named or personally identified.

Confidential employees

Confidential employees include only certain, specific individuals on your campus whom are exempt from the reporting requirements of other university employees. These individuals include:

  • Licensed, professional mental health counselors
  • Any staff within student advocates offices specifically designated as non- professional sexual assault advocates for students


An individual who comes forward to complain of sexual misconduct against or by a member of the university community or a third party.

Dating violence

Violence committed by a person against another person with whom he or she has been in a relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. The existence of such a relationship will be determined based on a consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interactions between the persons involved in the relationship. (This definition is based on the VAWA definition 42 U.S.C. 13925 (a).)

Domestic violence

Conduct that is an element of an offense under IC 35-42 (which includes crimes against a person) or a threat to commit an act described in IC 35-42 by a person against a person who:

  1. is or was a spouse of,
  2. is or was living as if a spouse of,
  3. has a child in common with,
  4. is a minor subject to the control of, or
  5. is an incapacitated individual under the guardianship or otherwise subject to the control of

the other person, regardless of whether the act or threat has been reported to a law enforcement agency or results in a criminal prosecution. (IC 5-26.5-1-3) (Indiana statute)

Human trafficking

A form of modern-day slavery where traffickers lure victims with false promises of employment or a better life. Traffickers recruit, transport, or obtain victims by force for the purpose of exploiting them. Human trafficking is divided into two categories: sex and labor trafficking.


A member of the university who is charged with one or more acts of sexual misconduct.

Responsible employee

An employee who has the authority to take action to redress sexual violence, who has been given the duty of reporting incidents of sexual violence or any other misconduct by students to the Title IX coordinator or other appropriate university designee, or whom a student could reasonably believe has this authority or duty. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Instructors, including full-time professors, adjunct professors, lecturers, associate instructors, and others who offer classroom instruction or office hours to students
  • Advisors
  • Coaches, trainers, and other athletic staff who interact directly with students
  • Student affairs administrators
  • Residential hall staff
  • Employees who work in offices that interact with students
  • Supervisors and university officials


Intimidation, threats, harassment, adverse changes in work or academic environments—or other adverse actions threatened or taken against a complainant or a third party—in an attempt to retaliate against, prevent, or otherwise obstruct the reporting of sexual misconduct.

Sexual assault

When an actor subjects a person to sexual penetration (a) without the consent of the person, (b) when the actor knew or should have known that the other person was mentally or physically incapable of resisting or appreciating the nature of the person's own conduct, or (c) when the person is under 16 years of age.

Sexual assault is also committed when an actor subjects a person to sexual contact (a) without consent of the person, (b) when the actor knew or should have known that the person was physically or mentally incapable of resisting or appraising the nature of the person's own conduct, or (c) when the person is under 16 years of age.

Sexual harassment

Unwelcome conduct or behavior of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment includes sexual violence (see definition below). Both violent and nonviolent sexual harassment are prohibited by the university. Sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances; requests for sexual favors; and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment creates a hostile environment when the conduct is sufficiently serious to limit or deny a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the university’s educational programs or when it affects employment—and it is prohibited.

Sexual misconduct

Sexual harassment, sexual violence, dating violence, domestic assault, domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, and stalking.

Sex trafficking

The inducement of a commercial sex act by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.

Sexual violence

Physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or when a person is incapable of giving consent due to use of drugs or alcohol, or due to an intellectual disability or other disability. Sexual violence includes rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion.


A knowing or an intentional course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of another person that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, or threatened and that actually causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, or threatened. The term does not include statutorily or constitutionally protected activity. (IC 35-45-10-1)

Title IX coordinator

The individual designated by the university to coordinate the university’s compliance with Title IX and respond to allegations of sexual misconduct by members of the university community.