Frequently Asked Questions

Sexual Assault and Violence Frequently Asked Questions

What is child sexual abuse?

Child sexual abuse “occurs when a child is used as an object for the sexual gratification of an adult [or adolescent] through manipulation, exploitation, threats or physical force.” The abuser does not have to contact the child physically (e.g. rape, molest) for an act to be defined as CSA; acts such as photographing a child for pornography are also ways in which children are sexually abused. CSA usually occurs in the home with someone the child trusts. The most prevalent form of CSA is incest, when the abuser is related to the child.

What is dating violence?

Dating violence/relationship violence is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors, including physical, sexual, verbal, psychological, sexual and emotional attacks that individuals use against their dating partners (ie: hitting, yelling, pushing, stealing money, rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, etc.). Dating violence often coincides with the isolation of one partner by another, be it through physical restraint, psychological isolation, or taking away mechanisms that would allow a partner to leave (like money or self-confidence). Dating violence occurs in all types of relationships, and people of all genders, sexualities, abilities, races, ages, marital statuses, etc. can be perpetrators and survivors of dating violence.

What are date rape drugs?

Date rape drugs are substances that are commonly used to intoxicate or drug people for the purpose of raping or sexually assaulting them. There are many substances that fall into this category and they are often given to people orally without their knowledge through methods such as slipping them into their drink. People who are given date rape drugs often become very intoxicated, may lose consciousness, become dizzy and lose the ability to consent to sexual activity. While some people take these or other drugs recreationally, this is not consent to sexual activity. Having sex with anyone under the influence of a drug (whether or not they took it consensually) is defined by law as rape, regardless of the gender, sexuality, race, ability, marital status, age, etc. of the survivor or perpetrator.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is coerced, unethical and/or unwanted sexual attention (including verbal harassment, demands for sex, subtle suggestions, rape, and sexual assault). Quid pro quo harassment occurs when a superior (teacher, employer, etc.) causes someone to believe that they must submit to unwelcome sexual conduct in order to participate in a school or work activity. Hostile environment harassment occurs when unwelcome, sexually harassing conduct is so severe or persistent that it affects someone's ability to participate in or advance at school or work. By legal definition, sexual harassment is viewed in terms of the impact of the harassing behavior on an individual and not by the intent of the alleged perpetrator. In assessing whether an incident constitutes sexual harassment Ð ranging from a strict violation of law to a case of inappropriate behavior Ð consideration is given to the entire context of the situation. Sexual harassment is about powerÑunequal power relationships are often exploited or created by abusive behavior.

What is stalking?

Stalking is repeated following and/or harassment of another person with the intent to threaten or place in fear the person being harassed. Stalking is prolonged criminal behavior that endangers the person being stalked, their family, their friends, and the community, and also poses the threat of other types of violence. Behavior requires repetition to qualify under most state statutes as stalking (usually 2 or more incidents). People can be stalked by strangers, former dating partners, relatives, acquaintances, siblings, former friends, teachers, etc. People of all genders, sexualities, races, ages, abilities, marital statuses, etc. can be survivors or perpetrators of stalking.

What are sexual assault and rape, and what's the difference?

Sexual assault is non-consensual sexual conduct, excluding rape, including but not limited to oral copulation, penetration by a foreign object, sexual touching/battery of a person's genitalia or other “sexual” areas, and attempted assault with the intent to commit rape. People of all genders, sexualities, abilities, races, ages, marital statuses, etc. can be perpetrators and survivors of sexual assault.

Rape is a non-consensual act of sexual intercourse, including sexual penetration, under any of the following circumstances: 1) by force, violence, duress, menace or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury to the survivor or another; 2) by preventing resistance by any intoxicating and anesthetic substance (such as alcohol or drugs) and this condition was known or should have been known by the accused; 3) when a person is unconscious of the nature of the act and the rapist knows it; 4) when a person is incapable of giving legal consent because of a disorder, disability, intoxication, or is underage. People of all genders, sexualities, marital statuses, abilities, races, ages, etc. can be perpetrators and survivors of rape.

LGBTQ+ Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between gender and sex?

Although our society often uses the two interchangeably, “gender” and “sex” are not the same.

What is sex?

A person's sex refers to one's biology, specifically to one's chromosomes, external genitalia, secondary sexual characteristics (development of breasts, pubic hair), and internal reproductive system. Sex is a term used historically and within the medical field to identify genetic/hormonal and physical characteristics that are used to classify an individual as female, male, or intersex. Sex is a legal assignment at your birth.

What is gender?

Gender is a set of socially constructed and assigned behaviors and identity patterns which are often perceived to be intertwined and/or equivalent to one's sexual biology. In fact, gender is constructed and fluidic, having multiple meanings across cultures, geographies, communities, and individuals. Although society promotes the dualistic concept that people are either a woman or a man, there are more than two genders.

Gender can be understood as having several components, including “Assigned Gender,” “Gender Expression,” “Gender Identity,” and “Gender Role.”

What is gender identity?

Gender identity is one's sense of one's own gender. It is the inner sense of being a man, a woman, both, neither, two-spirit, multi-gender, bi-gender or another configuration of gender.

What is sexual orientation? What does LGBQ+ mean?

LGBQ stands for: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Queer. LGBQ is a term used to refer to the community formed by these diverse identities that are joined together because of their shared oppression under heterosexism, homophobia, and sexism. LGBQ people are represented in every socioeconomic class, education level, political affiliation, age group, religion, race and ethnicity.

What does "queer" mean?

Queer has been used as...

  • an umbrella term for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community.
  • a political statement, as well as a sexual orientation, which advocates breaking binaries.
  • thinking by recognizing both sexual orientation and gender identity as potentially fluid.
  • a simple label to explain a complex set of sexual behaviors and desires. For example, a person who is attracted to multiple genders may identify as queer.

What does "transgender" mean?

Transgender (sometimes shortened to trans or TG) refers to individuals whose gender identity does not conform with what society has commonly associated with their biological sex. For example, an individual may be anatomically female (sex), and identify with and have a masculine gender expression. Yet, not all transgender people fit into a masculine/feminine binary. Instead, they may express multiple genders or express a unique gender that is neither completely masculine nor feminine. Transgender is also used as an umbrella term for a larger group of gender nonconforming people including transsexuals, cross dressers, genderqueers, and others. It is important to acknowledge that not everyone who appears to fit under this definition of transgender identifies as such.

What does "intersex" mean?

Intersex (previously referred to as hermaphrodite) refers to a condition because of which an individual may have sex chromosomes, anatomy or physiology that are not socially considered standard for either male or female. Intersex conditions are often visible at birth, but some develop later during puberty. There is no single “intersex body;” intersex encompasses a wide variety of conditions that do not have anything in common other than that they are deemed “abnormal” by the medical establishment.

What is bisexuality?

Bisexuality (sometimes shortened to bi) refers to the possibility of being attracted to both men and women. There are many variations of how one may express their bisexuality. Some bisexuals are equally attracted to both women and men, others may experience different degrees of attraction that may change throughout their lifetime. Identifying as bisexual does not mandate that one is sexually active with both men and women. Some people who are sexually active with both women and men may not identify as bisexual since sexual activity does not necessarily define one's sexual orientation.

What is homophobia?

Homophobia is the irrational fear and intolerance of a person's real or perceived sexual orientation. It can be caused by hate, prejudice, fear, and/or ignorance. Anti-gay violence and hatred created by homophobia are the causes for most hate crimes in the U.S. Homophobia has different motivations, but it always leads to hurt and exclusion of others.

What is heterosexism?

Assuming every person to be heterosexual therefore marginalizing persons who identify as LGBQ+. It is also believing heterosexuality to be superior to homosexuality.

Some definitions and text courtesy of UC Berkeley's Gender Equity Resource Center.
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