Assailant/Perpetrator/Offender/Abuser/Attacker is someone who attacks another person. They can describe sexual violence specifically, but they also apply to other types of crime. The terms are all more or less interchangeable. It is always a good idea to ask each victim or survivor what word they prefer to use for the person who committed the crime. It is a small way to give back a little bit of control over the situation.


Battering is a sociological term. The battered women’s movement coined it to describe a pattern of physical violence, intimidation, coercion, manipulation and other forms of abuse committed to establish or maintain control of their partner.


Child Abuse/Molestation is the physical, sexual, and/or emotional harming or neglect of a child. Molestation and abuse both mean more or less the same thing. Because the abuser is typically trusted in the child’s life, experts often consider child molestation to be particularly damaging.

Consent is a continual process by which partners each explicitly and mutually agree and give permission to sexual contact without force, coercion or threat of coercion.


Dating Violence/Relationship Violence is the verbal, physical, and/or sexual abuse of one partner by the other. Usually the partners are not married, do not have a child in common, and do not live together. This type of abuse can involve physical violence, threats and humiliation, unwanted sexual contact, and many more damaging behaviors.

Domestic Violence refers to any criminal offense involving the use or threatened use of physical force, in which the offender and the victim have a familial or household relationship. Domestic violence is a pattern of physically, sexually, and/or emotionally abusive behaviors that one individual uses to assert power or maintain control in the context of an intimate or family relationship.


Gang Rape is when two or more offenders act together to rape the same victim. Because it is a group crime, the offenders are those who have sexual relations with the victim and those who threaten or use force to make the victim submit.


Incest is sexual abuse that a blood relative, family member, or step parent perpetrates. Due to the close relationship that exists already between perpetrators and their victims, many consider incest to be particularly damaging.

Indecent Exposure (sometimes referred to as “flashing”) is when an individual exposes sexual body parts in inappropriate and even threatening contexts.


Rape Rape laws and legal definitions of rape vary from state to state. Rape is forced or non-consensual sexual intercourse. It may be accompanied by fear, threats of harm, and/or actual physical force. Rape also includes situations when the victim is unable to give consent or can’t resist due to being intoxicated, drugged, unconscious, or asleep.


Sexual Assault is any unwanted sexual activity that a perpetrator forces their victim to do. It can range from unwanted sexual touching to rape.


Voyeurism is a disorder that involves achieving sexual arousal by observing an unsuspecting and non-consenting person who is undressing or unclothed, and/or engaged in sexual activity.