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Sexual Violence/Sexualized Violence (SV)

What is the difference between sexual violence and sexualized violence?

  • The terms “sexual violence” and “sexualized violence” are used interchangeably.
  • The term “sexualized violence” is preferred by some because it more clearly emphasizes the idea of violence over the idea of sexuality.
  • Both terms are often abbreviated to SV. The abbreviation SV is used throughout the remainder of this definition.

Okay, what is SV?

The Mount Saint Vincent University (2019) Policy Against Sexual Assault provides a typical definition of SV. It says that SV includes:

  • “Any sexual act” without consent (p. 14)
  • Any act without consent “targeting a person’s sexuality, gender identity or gender expression” (p. 14)

The policy specifies that SV can be:

  • “Physical or psychological” (p. 14)
  • “Committed, threatened, or attempted” (p. 14)

What is the relationship between SV and sexual assault?

  • Sexual assault is a form of SV, but many forms of SV are not sexual assault.
  • Whereas sexual assault is a legal term in Canada, SV is not. However, there are laws against many forms of SV.

What are some examples of SV?

Examples of SV drawn from the Mount Saint Vincent University (2019) and Cape Breton University (2016) SV/SA Policies include:

  • sexual assault
  • sexual harassment
  • stalking
  • indecent exposure
  • voyeurism
  • sexual exploitation of minors
  • trafficking
  • distribution of sexual images or video without consent
  • online sexual harassment
  • cyber stalking of a sexual nature

Which forms of SV do university SV/SA policies cover?

  • Some university SV/SA policies address sexual assault only, while others address SV in general.
  • The definitions of SV can differ between policies, so it is important to check with your university’s policy to be sure of what’s included.
  • If sexual assault is the only form of SV covered by your university SV/SA policy, other forms are likely to be covered under other policies, such as:
    • student codes of conduct
    • harassment & discrimination policies
    • policies governing computer use