Virginia Tech® home


The first step toward protecting our community against sexual harassment and violence is being sure that we have a shared, clear understanding of what it is. The following terms and definitions are often discussed in connection with sexual harassment and violence.

Confidential versus Private resources

Confidential resources will not share, nor be asked to share, identifying information about you or the conversations that take place without your consent. Exceptions can only be made in response to court orders, when child or elder abuse is involved, or if there are serious threats to hurt oneself or others.

Private resources are required to report some information about incidences to the Virginia Tech Title IX Coordinator. Other university departments may also be involved to help survivors or protect the campus community.


Virginia Tech uses an affirmative definition of consent. This means that to engage in sexual contact, each partner must express their consent.

Consent is knowing, voluntary, and clear permission by word or action, to engage in mutually agreed upon sexual activity.

  • Silence does not necessarily constitute consent.
  • Coercion, force, or threat of either party invalidates consent.
  • Consent cannot be given where a person is incapacitated due to drugs, alcohol and/or mental, physical, or cognitive condition, or when the person is under 18.
  • Consent to any one form of sexual activity cannot automatically imply consent to any other forms of sexual activity.
  • Consent can be withdrawn at any time.
  • Prior relationship or consent does not imply future consent.

Dating Violence

Violence committed by a person who has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim. The existence of such a relationship is determined based on: (1) the length of the relationship, (2) type of the relationship, and (3) frequency of interactions between the parties.

Your relationship does not need to be exclusive,long term, or ongoing for dating violence to occur.

Domestic Violence

A felony or misdemeanor crime of violence by a current or former spouse, co-parent, or intimate partner or someone similarly situated to a spouse as defined by the Commonwealth of Virginia. More information about Virginia’s domestic violence laws is available online.

Sexual Assault

A general term that refers to sexual contact that occurs without a person’s consent. It includes the following definitions:

  • Rape: Penetration, no matter how slight of (1) the vagina or anus of a person by any body part of another person or by an object, or (2) the mouth of a person by a sex organ of another person, without that person’s consent.
  • Fondling: Touching the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of age or temporary or mental incapacity.
  • Incest: Sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.
  • Statutory Rape: Sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.

Sexual Harassment

Unwelcome contact that is based on sex or is sexual in nature makes it difficult or impossible to participate in school or work at Virginia Tech. This includes contact that is based on a person’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Sexual harassment is:

  • A university employee putting conditions on an educational benefit or service based upon a person’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct. This is called quid pro quo harassment.
  • Unwelcome conduct that a reasonable person would determine to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it would deny a person equal access to a university program or activity.
  • Sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking (each defined below) - even when they occur just once - are considered forms of sexual harassment.


A course of conduct directed at a specific person which would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety or the safety of others, or to suffer substantial emotional distress. There is no set number of times that contact has to occur before it can be considered stalking. Stalking may happen through in-person contact but could also happen by phone, social media, or other means.