The terms below are used frequently in this guide. We hope these definitions help you understand the information throughout the guide.
An advocate is someone who is trained to support survivors of sexual assault. They can often offer support, resources, information, and referrals.
A document you file with your school, the court, the police, or the state or federal agencies described in this Guide to explain what happened to you, ask for protections to keep you safe, and, in some situations, to ask your school to take steps to ensure that students are safe from sexual assault on campus.
Confidentiality means that the information that you share will be kept secret and not shared with anyone else without your permission.
Consent is voluntary, sober, enthusiastic, creative, wanted, informed, mutual, honest, and verbal agreement to engage in sexual activity. May be state specific if the state has its own legal definition. WA requires consent to be affirmative and freely given. Idaho and Oregon do not specifically define consent. Alaska and Montana do not require that consent be freely given or affirmative but do define consent. State consent definitions can be found here.
Consent must be an active agreement. Real consent is not coerced.
Consent can be withdrawn at any time without regard to any sexual activity that happened before.
Consent may not be inferred from silence or passivity alone. The absence of a “no” does not mean “yes.”
Consent should be asked for every step of the way; if you want to move to the next level of sexual intimacy, just ask. If your partner does not consent, then STOP.
Consent cannot be assumed, even in the context of a relationship. Just because you are in a relationship does not mean that you have permission to have sex with your partner.
A person who is too drunk to be aware of what is happening, who is too young, or who is mentally incapacitated in some way, cannot legally give consent.
All people involved should be involved in the decision to have sex.
Consent may be defined differently by federal, state, or local laws or your school. Check with your Title IX coordinator to find out if your campus has a specific definition it uses. Even if what happened to you does not fit a certain definition, support is available for you. If you are unsure if you were sexually assaulted, speak to a counselor or an advocate to help you understand what happened.
Criminal No Contact Order
This type of no-contact order is issued by a criminal court when the perpetrator has been arrested and/or charged with a crime. The order will prohibit the accused person, also known as the defendant, from having any contact with you. This remains in place until the end of the criminal process. A violation of this kind of order is subject to further criminal charges. You do not have control over whether this type of order is issued or dismissed. Also see No Contact Order.
Emergency contraception is birth control that can prevent pregnancy when taken up to 120 hours after a sexual assault (or consensual sexual activity).
No Contact Order (issued by a school)
Your school’s Student Conduct and/or Disciplinary department may have the ability to issue a letter to the perpetrator telling them that they are prohibited from having contact with you. It is typically issued during the complaint investigation process, and at times during any appeal process as well (but you may have to request that it be reissued). It remains in place until the school notifies you in writing that it is no longer in place. A violation of the no-contact order could result in further disciplinary proceedings.
Preponderance of Evidence
A legal standard of proof than requires evidence showing that it is more likely than not (51%, essentially) that an alleged event occurred. This legal standard is different than the one used in criminal cases but is the same as that used in sexual assault protection order cases and other civil cases. Your school may choose to use this standard for Title IX investigations.
A protection order is a civil order issued by a court to protect someone who has been stalked, harassed, or sexually assaulted. This can be a Sexual Assault Protection Order, a Stalking Protection Order, or a Domestic Violence Protection Order (if the perpetrator is someone you had or have a relationship with). A protection order can require your assailant to stay a certain distance away from you and ensure that your assailant does not bother you where you live, work, or study. A violation of a civil protection order is enforceable by law enforcement and is subject to criminal charges. A civil order for protection is in your control--you can ask a court for it, or not. However, if there is a criminal case against the perpetrator, the prosecutor may ask the court for a civil sexual assault protection order on your behalf.
Sexual activity that you did not consent to is sexual assault.
For Title IX purposes, sexual harassment is conduct on the basis of sex which includes at least one of the following elements:
1. Quid Pro Quo Harassment - conditioning educational access or opportunities on sexual favors. For example, a teaching assistant says they will help you study if you perform sexual acts for them.
2. Unwanted conduct that a reasonable person would find "so serious, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access" to an educational program or activity.
3. "Sexual assault" as defined in 20 U.S.C. 1092(f)(6)(A)(v), "dating violence" as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(10), "domestic violence" as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(8), or "stalking" as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(30).
Student Conduct Code or Conduct Code
A student conduct code is a set of standards and procedures developed by each school. It usually provides for internal review processes if a student does not comply with those standards. Some schools, including many schools in Washington State, use their student conduct code process to address complaints of sexual assault. Schools may make more protections and services available to students than federal Title IX rules require.
Title IX is a federal law which requires your school to ensure that all students can access their education free from gender discrimination, which is defined to include sexual assault. Title IX applies even if you are assaulted off-campus or if you were assaulted by someone who is not a student. Title IX requires your school to provide a fair and timely process to adjudicate claims of sexual assault. If your school does not treat you fairly, Title IX enables you to file a complaint against your school.
Washington Law Against Discrimination
The Washington Law Against Discrimination is a state law that protects people from discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, religion, military status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. It includes protections from discrimination in schools, colleges, and universities (unless those schools are religious).