When we talk about sexual violence, the language that we use matters. Below is an overview of some key definitions.


It is important to recognize that those who have experienced sexual violence will have their own way to refer to their experience - there is no one "correct" or "best" way.

Some people prefer to be referred to as ‘Survivor’, others may prefer ‘Victim’. We also recognize this language is imperfect, and cannot capture the entirety of someone's experience or their identity.

Sexual Violence

An umbrella term that encompasses a broad range of sexual behaviour, whether physical or psychological, that is committed, threatened or attempted against a person without the person’s consent.

It takes many forms including, but not limited to: sexual violence, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, voyeurism, distribution of sexual images or video of a person(s) without their consent, stealthing, and online activity including online harassment or online stalking of a sexual nature.

Sexual Assault

Any form of unwanted sexual contact that occurs without ongoing and freely given consent, including the threat of sexual contact without consent.


Means an active, direct, voluntary, and conscious choice and agreement between two adults to engage in physical or sexual activity.

It is the responsibility of the person initiating or pursuing physical or sexual activity to obtain consent at all stages of physical or sexual engagement.

More specifically, consent:

  • is a freely given “yes”;
  • cannot be assumed or based on a perception that it was implied; 
  • cannot be given by someone who is incapacitated (by drugs and/or alcohol), asleep, unconscious, or otherwise incapable of providing consent;
  • can be removed at any time, regardless of whatever other physical or sexual activities have taken place;
  • can never be obtained through threats, intimidation, coercion or other pressure tactics;
  • cannot be obtained if someone abuses a position of trust, power or authority; and 
  • cannot be assumed from previous consent to previous physical or sexual activities.

Disclose or disclosing

The sharing of information by a member of the University community regarding an incident of sexual violence with a member of the University community in order to access support only.

A disclosure can be made without a formal report to the University.

Report or reporting

A formal report of an incident of sexual violence made by a member of the University community for the purpose of initiating some form of investigation by the University.

This is not the same as disclosing, which does not initiate a formal process. This is also not the same as making a report to police or other reporting mechanism outside of the University.

If you are unsure about a situation and do not know if this would be considered an act of sexual violence or if you have any questions regarding these definitions, you can contact disclosures@capilanou.ca or 604 986 1911, ext. 3046 for more support and additional information.