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.


Consent is an agreement expressed through affirmative, voluntary words or actions, and mutually understandable to all parties involved, to engage in a specific sexual act at a specific time:

  • Consent can be withdrawn at any time, as long as it is clearly communicated.
  • Consent cannot be coerced or compelled by force, threat, deception or intimidation.
  • Consent cannot be given by someone who is incapacitated, as defined below.
  • 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.


A person is incapable of consent if they are unable to understand the facts, nature, extent, or implications of the situation due to drugs, alcohol, a mental disability, being asleep or unconscious, or based on their age (pursuant to Indiana law).

Consent does not exist when the individual initiating sexual activity knew or should have known of the other person’s incapacitation


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


Refers to an individual who reports experiencing sexual misconduct committed by a member of the University community, and is named in a complaint of sexual misconduct under this policy and procedures. The University may serve as the Complainant when the alleged victim does not wish to participate and the University has determined it is necessary to move forward under the applicable procedures.

Dating violence

Violence or the threat of violence committed by any person who is or 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.

Domestic violence

Violence or the threat of violence by a person against a another 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.

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 lecturers, associate instructors, teaching assistants, and any others who offer instruction (whether in-person or online) or office hours to students
  • Advisors
  • Coaches, and other athletic staff who interact directly with students
  • Student affairs administrators
  • Residential hall staff
  • Employees who work in offices that interface 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

Sexual assault includes:

  1. Non-consensual Sexual Penetration is committed when an individual subjects another person to sexual penetration (see below) without the consent of the person, and/or by force.
  2. Non-consensual Sexual Contact intentional sexual touching by an individual of the intimate area of another person (i.e., genitals, breasts, buttocks) or intentional sexual touching of another person with any of these body parts, without the consent of the person, and/or by force.

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.