Skip to Content

Interpersonal Violence


Use these terms and their explanations to facilitate open discussion, create understanding and talk about how to prevent and respond to interpersonal violence. These definitions supplement but don't replace the definitions of terms outlined in university policy.

Interpersonal Violence

Interpersonal violence includes sexual assault, intimate partner (dating or relationship) violence and stalking. 

Consent is a must for any form of sexual activity. Without consent, any sexual act is sexual violence. USC defines consent as a clear, conscious, willing, and affirmative agreement to engage in sexual activity.

A person who is incapacitated for any reason is not capable of giving consent, just as an unconscious person cannot consent. Prior consent does not guarantee future consent; consent for one sexual act does not imply consent for other sexual acts; and it can be withdrawn at any time. The style of a person’s clothing does not express consent. Silence or the absence of a “no” does not mean there is consent.

An active bystander is someone who sees a harmful situation or event and intervenes in some way to prevent harm.

Learn more about how to be an active bystander.

Confidential resources are employees with a legal obligation or privilege of confidentiality. They are not required to report the identity of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, or stalking survivors. At USC, medical and counseling staff, interpersonal violence survivor advocates, members of the clergy and attorneys are confidential resources.

See a list of contacts and note the confidential resources.

Harassment includes unsolicited and unwelcome annoying, alarming or abusive contact through verbal, electronic, or other means that create fear or concern in the person receiving the contact.

Intimate partner violence occurs when one person in a relationship is using a pattern of methods and tactics to gain and maintain power and control over the other person.

Sexual assault includes any type of sexual touch, act, or activity that happens without consent.

Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

Stalking is a pattern of repeated, unwanted attention and contact that causes someone to fear for their own safety or the safety of another person. It can happen in person and through online activity and social media.

Victim blaming occurs when people are held entirely or partially responsible for the crimes committed against them.


Interpersonal Violence

    Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.