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Common Definitions

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See PCC’s Civil Rights and Responsibilities Policies for more information about PCC’s Title IX Policy and Procedures and specific definitions related to the Title IX Process. Below you will find definitions commonly used in relation to gender based violence including links to additional information on the topic.


Consent is an agreement between participants to engage in activity through voluntary, ongoing, and active permission. Each party should determine the other has consented before and during activity. Consent can be withdrawn at any time during any activity, and consent in one activity does not mean consent for future activities. Learn more: Planned Parenthood – Sexual Consent.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct that is sexual, sex-based, and/or gender-based in nature. This includes both creating a hostile environment and “quid pro quo” sexual harassment

  • Hostile environment is created when sexual harassment is severe; and/or persistent; and/or pervasive; and objectively offensive.
  • Quid pro quo sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature by a person having power or authority over another.


Stalking is repetitive and menacing contact with another person on the basis of sex, gender, gender identity, or gender expression. Contact includes, but is not limited to, pursuing, following, harassing via telephone or online communication, giving unwanted gifts, surveilling, or interfering with the safety of another.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim including rape or attempted rape, fondling or unwanted sexual touching, forcing a victim to perform sexual acts such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body.

Intimate Partner and Dating Violence

An on-going pattern of hurtful, manipulative or controlling activities including physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, and financial abuse, isolation, and coercion that results in one partner being afraid of the other partner or spouse. Domestic violence can occur in all types of relationships including within an intimate partnership, between adult children and their elderly parents, between people with disabilities and their caretakers, in teen dating relationships, and many more dynamics of relationships.

Emotional and Psychological Abuse

Any abusive behavior that isn’t physical, which may include verbal aggression, intimidation, manipulation, and humiliation, that aims to diminish another person’s sense of identity, dignity, and self worth. Learn more: OneLove – What Emotional Abuse Really Means.

Physical Abuse

Any abusive behavior that is physical including kicking, pushing, scratching, grabbing, restraining someone from leaving. Sleep deprivation is also a tactic used for physical abuse which is less commonly known but extremely harmful.

Sexual Abuse

Any action that pressures or coerces someone to do something sexually they don’t want to. It can also refer to a behavior that impacts a person’s ability to control their sexual activity or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs. Learn more: Love is Respect – Sexual Abuse.

Digital Abuse

Digital abuse is the use of technologies such as texting and social networking to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate a partner. Like other forms of abuse, it is an attempt to control another person’s actions. Learn more: Behind the Screen – What is Digital Abuse?

Reproductive Abuse

Reproductive abuse is when one partner strips the other of the ability to control their own reproductive system and timeline, often paired with different forms of abuse. Learn more: Love is Respect – Reproductive Coercion.

Cultural and Spiritual Abuse

Spiritual abuse can be used to control how a person interacts with the world by belittling beliefs, practices or traditions, preventing you from participating in your spiritual or cultural traditions, misusing spiritual practices against you, and more. Learn more about cultural abuse, specifically in Native and Indigenous communities: StrongHearts Native Helpline – What is Cultural Abuse?