Acquaintance Sexual Assault

Acquaintance sexual assault, sometimes called "date rape," is sexual contact that is forced, manipulated, or coerced by a partner, friend, or acquaintance.

Age of Consent for Sexual Activity

The age of consent is the age at which a person can legally consent to sexual activity. In Canada, children under 12 can never legally consent to sexual acts. Sixteen is the legal age of consent for sexual acts. There are variations on the age of consent for adolescents who are close in age, between the ages of 12 and 16. Twelve and 13 year-olds can consent to have sex with other youth who are less than 2 years older than themselves. Youth who are 14 and 15 years old may consent to sexual involvement that is mutual with a person who is less than 5 years older. Youths 16 and 17 years old may legally consent to sexual acts with someone who is not in a position of trust or authority.


For the purposes of sexual violence prevention, a bystander is anyone who is neither a victim nor an offender, but who could potentially get involved to make a difference. It refers to anyone who is in a position to intervene before, during, or after the act.

Campus Climate

A campus climate may be defined as the sum total of all of the personal relationships and social norms within a school. When these relationships are founded in mutual acceptance and inclusion, and modeled by all, a culture of respect becomes the norm. A situation that disrupts or negatively affects the culture of respect on campus can be considered to be one that negatively impacts the campus climate.


The expressed, voluntary agreement to engage in the sexual activity with another individual or individuals.

  • Someone who is incapacitated in any way (i.e., due to the use of drugs or alcohol, being asleep or unconscious, or a disability that prevents an individual in giving consent) cannot consent
  • Past consent does not imply future consent
  • Being in a relationship with an individual does not constitute consent
  • Silence or an absence of resistance does not imply consent
  • Consent to engage in sexual activity with one person does not imply consent to engage in sexual activity with another
  • Consent can be withdrawn at any time
  • Coercion, force, or threat of either invalidates consent
  • Consent cannot be obtained if the accused abuses a position of trust, power, or authority
  • Consent cannot be assumed by the accused based on impaired judgment

Criminal (Police) Report

The lodging of a formal complaint to police officials against another person for perpetrating sexual violence.


An individual who is alleged to have perpetrated sexual violence.

Cyber Harassment/Cyber Stalking

Often used interchangeably, cyber harassment and cyber stalking are defined as repeated, unsolicited, threatening behaviour by a person or group using cell phone or Internet technology with the intent to bully, harass, and intimidate a victim. The harassment can take place in any electronic environment where communication with others is possible, such as on social networking sites, on message boards, in chat rooms, through text messages, or through email.

Date Rape

The term "date rape" is interchangeable with "acquaintance sexual assault." It is sexual contact that is forced, manipulated, or coerced by a partner, friend or acquaintance.


When a survivor reports sexual violence to a Campus Official. This is not the same as a formal complaint, as outlined below, which activates the University's duty to investigate.

Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault

Drug-facilitated sexual assault involves the perpetrator making use of alcohol and/or drugs (prescription or non-prescription) to control, overpower or subdue a victim for purposes of sexual assault.

Formal Complaint

The lodging of a complaint with the University against another member of the University Community for perpetrating sexual violence, for the purposes of initiating some form of investigation.

Gender-Based Violence

Gender-based violence is any form of behaviour—including psychological, physical, and sexual behaviour—that is based on an individual's gender and is intended to control, humiliate, or harm the individual. This form of violence is generally directed at women and girls. It reflects an attitude or prejudice at the individual or institutional level that aims to subordinate an individual or group on the basis of sex and/or gender identity.


Intersectionality is defined by the Ontario Human Rights Commission as "multiple forms of discrimination occurring simultaneously." An intersectional analysis recognizes that each individual will experience sexual violence differently based on compounding forms of discrimination, such as their gender identity, culture, race, language, disability, Deafness, religion, age, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and others. These intersecting identities may leave some groups more vulnerable to sexual violence, and will inform what services a survivor will seek.


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, 2-spirited, intersex, queer and questioning.


Rape is a term used to describe vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse, without consent. Although no longer used in a legal sense in Canada, it is still commonly used and widely understood.

Rape Myths

Rape myths complicate society's understanding of sexual assault. These myths blame or shame the survivor of sexual assault, instead of holding the perpetrator responsible for his or her actions.

Safety Planning

Safety plans typically contain a set of objectives and strategies identified by the survivor to help promote ongoing safety and prevent future incidents (e.g., how to build a network of supports and crisis contacts, places that are safe, identifying situations and courses of action for a survivor to take to keep safe). These objectives and steps will typically relate to academic, housing, social, and recreational life on campus. The plan also includes actions the survivor will take in the event of an immediate physical or emotional threat. Safety plans should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure they are up-to-date.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is any type of unwanted sexual act done by one person to another that violates the sexual integrity of that individual. Sexual assault is characterized by a broad range of behaviours that involve the use of force, threats, or control towards a person, which makes that person feel uncomfortable, distressed, frightened, or threatened, and is carried out in circumstances in which the person has not freely agreed, consented to, or is incapable of consenting to.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual attention directed at an individual by someone whose conduct or comments are, or should reasonably be known to be, offensive, inappropriate, intimidating, hostile, and unwelcome, and creates an unsafe and uncomfortable environment. Sexual harassment often occurs in environments in which sexist or homophobic jokes and materials have been allowed, and may include unwanted, demeaning, or derogatory remarks based on gender, and may not be sexual in nature.

Sexual Violence

Any violence, physical or psychological, carried out through sexual means, or by targeting sexuality. This includes, but is not limited to: sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, voyeurism, degrading sexual imagery, distribution of sexual images or video without consent, and cyber harassment or cyber stalking of a sexual nature.

Social Marketing

Social marketing is an approach that applies marketing principles and techniques to create change for social, environmental, and public health problems. The idea is to attempt to influence individuals to act in more socially responsible ways. As such, the social marketing approach seeks to move individuals beyond becoming aware of a problem, to actual behaviour change.


An individual who has experienced sexual violence.

Victim Blaming

Victim blaming occurs when the victim of a crime or an accident is held responsible — in whole or in part — for the crimes that have been committed against them.

These terms have been adapted from the Ontario Women's Directorate, "Developing a response to sexual violence: A resource guide for Ontario's colleges and universities" p. 29-30.


Government of Ontario, Ontario Women's Directorate, Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. (2013). Developing a response to sexual violence: A resource guide for Ontario's colleges and universities. Retried from the Ontario Women's Directorate website: