Everyone deserves loving and fulfilling relationships with their partners, friends, and family. The signs of healthy and harmful relationships are not always obvious. Only the people inside a relationship can determine what is good for them.
The Violence Prevention uses the term relationship violence to describe the power-based violent offenses addressed in the Violence Against Women Act of 1994. These crimes are sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.
Understanding relationship violence on a college campus can sometimes be confusing, in part because of the complicated words we use. Our goal is to educate the campus community about what relationship violence looks like using simple language so that everyone can recognize the signs.
Nevertheless, using legal terms is also necessary so that our school policies can hold people accountable for the harm they do to others using the standards of state and federal laws. That is why this page includes both the definitions from our college policies and definitions that everyone can understand.
Click on the links below to learn more about each type of relationship violence.
Sexual assault is forcing, coercing, and/or manipulating a person into unwanted sexual activity. Sexual assault is part of a range of behaviors that offenders use to take power from their victims. It can begin with words, gestures, jokes, and intimidation. It can progress to coercion, threats, and actions that involve sexual touching or intercourse, and may involve other forms of violence.1
Some examples of sexual assault include:
- Kissing, sexual touching, or rough or violent sexual activity that is unwanted
- Rape or attempted rape
- Sexual contact with someone who is very drunk, drugged, unconscious or otherwise unable to give a clear and informed “yes” or “no”
- Pressuring, threatening or forcing someone to have sex or perform sexual acts 2
How Edmonds College defines sexual violence
Sexual violence is a term that includes sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. This term is used to comply with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Edmonds College's nondiscrimination and harassment policy. According to this policy, once the college is aware of sexual violence that is affecting a student, they have a responsibility to immediately take steps to resolve the situation, end the violence, and work to prevent reoccurrence.
Sexual assault is one type of sexual violence that can be broken down into nonconsensual sexual intercourse and nonconsensual sexual contact.
Nonconsensual sexual intercourse
Nonconsensual sexual intercourse is any sexual intercourse (anal, oral, or vaginal), however slight, with any object, by a person upon another person, that is without consent and/or by force. Sexual intercourse includes anal or vaginal penetration by a penis, tongue, finger, or object, or oral copulation by mouth to genital contact or genital to mouth contact. 3
Nonconsensual sexual contact
Nonconsensual sexual contact is any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any object, by a person upon another person that is without consent and /or by force. Sexual touching includes any bodily contact with the breasts, groin, mouth, or other bodily orifice of another individual, or any other bodily contact in a sexual manner. 3
Dating violence is behaving in a controlling, abusive, and aggressive way in a romantic relationship. It can happen in straight or gay relationships. It can include physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, financial, or digital abuse, or a combination. 2
Similarly, domestic violence is using a pattern of behavior in a relationship so that one person gains power and control over the other. 4 To be considered domestic violence, that abuse typically happens between people who are married or living together, whereas dating violence applies to romantic partners who are not co-habitating.
Many of the same harmful patterns of behavior occur within dating violence and domestic violence. Abuse is not caused by anger, mental problems, alcohol or other drugs, or other common excuses. It is caused by one person's belief that they have the right to control their partner. 4
Examples of physical abuse
- Scratching, punching, biting, strangling, kicking, pulling hair, pushing, pulling, grabbing someone's face or clothing, or throwing items at someone
- Using a gun, knife, box cutter, bat, mace or other weapon
- Smacking someone's bottom without their permission or consent
- Grabbing someone to prevent them from leaving or to force them to go somewhere 2
Examples of sexual abuse
- Kissing, sexual touching, or rough or violent activity that is unwanted
- Rape or attempted rape
- Pressuring, threatening or forcing someone to have sex or perform sexual acts
- Sexual contact with someone who is very drunk, drugged, unconscious or otherwise unable to give a clear and informed “yes” or “no"
- Using sexual insults toward someone
- Refusing to use a condom during sex, taking a condom off during sex without someone's consent, or restricting someone's access to birth control
- Keeping someone from protecting themselves from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) 2
Examples of emotional or verbal abuse
- Calling someone names and putting them down
- Yelling and screaming at someone
- Intentionally embarrassing someone in public
- Preventing someone from seeing or talking with friends and family
- Telling someone what to do and wear
- Damaging someone's property when they’re angry (throwing objects, punching walls, kicking doors, etc.)
- Using online communities or cell phones to control, intimidate or humiliate someone
- Blaming abusive or unhealthy behavior on someone else's actions
- Accusing someone of cheating and often being jealous of outside relationships
- Threatening to commit suicide to keep someone from breaking up with them
- Threatening to do harm to someone, their pet or people they care about
- Using gaslighting techniques to confuse or manipulate someone
- Making someone feel guilty or immature when they don’t consent to sexual activity
- Threatening to expose someone's secrets such as sexual orientation or immigration status
- Starting rumors about someone
- Threatening to have someone's children taken away 2
Examples of financial abuse
- Giving someone an allowance and closely watching what they buy
- Placing someone's paycheck in your account and denying them access to it
- Keeping someone from seeing shared bank accounts or records
- Forbidding someone to work or limiting the hours they do
- Preventing someone from going to work by taking their car or keys
- Getting someone fired by harassing them, their employer or coworkers on the job
- Hiding or stealing someone's student financial aid check or outside financial support
- Using someone's social security number to obtain bad credit loans without their permission
- Using the social security number of someone's child to claim an income tax refund without their permission
- Maxing out someone's credit cards without their permission
- Refusing to give someone money, food, rent, medicine or clothing
- Spending money on yourself but not allowing someone else to do the same
- Giving someone presents and/or paying for things like dinner and expecting they somehow return the favor
- Using someone's money to hold power over them because you know they are not in the same financial situation as you are 2
Examples of digital abuse
- Telling someone who they can or can’t be friends with on Facebook and other sites
- Sending someone negative, insulting or even threatening emails, Facebook messages, tweets, DMs or other messages online
- Using sites like Facebook, Twitter, foursquare and others to keep constant tabs on someone
- Putting someone down in your status updates
- Sending someone unwanted, explicit pictures and/or demanding they send some in return
- Pressuring someone to send explicit videos or sexts
- Stealing or insisting on being given someone's passwords
- Constantly texting someone and making them feel like they can’t be separated from their phone for fear that they will be punished
- Looking through someone's phone frequently, checking up on their pictures, texts and outgoing calls
- Tagging someone unkindly in pictures on Instagram, Tumblr, etc.
- Using any kind of technology (such as spyware or GPS in a car or on a phone) to monitor someone 2
How Edmonds College defines dating and domestic violence
Dating violence means violence by a person who has been in a romantic or intimate relationship with the victim. Whether there was such relationship will be gauged by its length, type, and frequency of interaction.
Domestic violence includes asserted violent misdemeanor and felony offenses committed by the victim’s current or former spouse, current or former cohabitant, person similarly situated under domestic or family violence laws, or anyone else protected under domestic or family violence law. 3
Stalking is when a person repeatedly watches, follows or harasses someone, or makes them feel afraid or unsafe. In the State of Washington, stalking involves:
- Intentionally and repeatedly following someone in order to be close to them or be able to see them over a period of time
- Intentionally and repeatedly harassing someone to the point that it frightens, seriously alarms, annoys, or is detrimental to that person
- Making someone reasonably afraid that they will be injured or their property will be injured. Or making someone afraid that another person and/or another person’s property will be injured
- Knowing that the person is intimidated, harassed, or afraid even if the stalker did not intend to intimidate, harass, or make the person feel afraid 5
Examples of stalking
- Showing up at someone's home or place of work unannounced or uninvited
- Sending someone unwanted text messages, letters, emails and voicemails
- Leaving unwanted items, gifts or flowers
- Constantly calling someone and hanging up
- Using social networking sites and technology to track someone
- Spreading rumors about someone via the internet or word of mouth
- Making unwanted phone calls to someone
- Calling someone's employer or professor
- Waiting at places someone hangs out
- Using other people as resources to investigate someone's life. For example, looking at their Facebook page through someone else’s page or befriending their friends in order to get more information about them
- Damaging someone's home, car or other property 2
How Edmonds College defines stalking
Stalking means intentional and repeated harassment or following of another person, which places that person in reasonable fear that the perpetrator intends to injure, intimidate, or harass that person. Stalking also includes instances where the perpetrator knows or reasonably should know that the person is frightened, intimidated, or harassed, even if the perpetrator lacks such intent.3
- Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs. (2015). Understanding Sexual Assault. Retrieved from www.wcsap.org/understanding-sexual-violence.
- Love Is Respect (2017). What Are the Different Types of Dating Abuse? Retrieved from www.loveisrespect.org/is-this-abuse/types-of-abuse.
- Edmonds College. (2017). What is Title IX? Retrieved from /titleix/what-is-titleix.
- Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (2017). About Domestic Violence. Retrieved from wscadv.org/about-domestic-violence.
- Washington State Legislature. (2013). RCW 9A.46.110:Stalking. Retrieved from http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=9A.46.110.