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Sexual Assault

Sexual Violence is defined in UMBC’s sexual misconduct policy as physical sexual acts perpetrated or attempted without consent. Sexual Violence includes, but are not limited to, rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion. Sexual Violence, in any form, is a criminal act

What is rape? 

Rape is a form of sexual assault, but not all sexual assault is rape. The term rape is often used as a legal definition to specifically include sexual penetration without consent. For its Uniform Crime Reports, the FBI defines rape as “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” To see how your state legally defines rape and other forms of sexual assault, visit RAINN’s State Law Database.

What is force? 

Force doesn’t always refer to physical pressure. Perpetrators may use emotional coercion, psychological force, or manipulation to coerce a victim into non-consensual sex. Some perpetrators will use threats to force a victim to comply, such as threatening to hurt the victim or their family or other intimidation tactics.

Who are the perpetrators?

The majority of perpetrators are someone known to the victim. Approximately seven out of 10 of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim, such as in the case of intimate partner sexual violence or acquaintance rape.

The term “date rape” is sometimes used to refer to acquaintance rape. Perpetrators of acquaintance rape might be a date, but they could also be a classmate, a neighbor, a friend’s significant other, or any number of different roles. It’s important to remember that dating, instances of past intimacy, or other acts like kissing do not give someone consent for increased or continued sexual contact.

This Information is adapted from RAINN.


Consent may not be inferred from silence, passivity or a lack of objection or resistance. Consent cannot be obtained by force, threat, coercion, fraud, manipulation, reasonable fear of injury, intimidation, or through the use of one’s mental or physical helplessness or incapacity. The absence of a negative response, such as silence or a failure to physically resist does not equal consent.

Some behaviors and comments that do not indicate consent include (but are not limited to):

  • Silence;
  • “I don’t know;”
  • “Maybe;”
  • A head shake;
  • Lack of objection;
  • Not fighting back;
  • Ambiguous responses such as “uh huh” or “mm hmm” without more; and
  • A verbal “no,” even if it may sound indecisive or insincere. For more information on the University’s policy on consent, please visit the sexual misconduct policy on the human relations website and also watch the video below.

What is Consent?