Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is a term which, at the University of California, encompasses these four issues: sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.  Like discrimination and harassment, they are all prohibited under the law and under University policy.

What is sexual violence?

Sexual violence includes sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. Along with sexual harassment, all of these are prohibited by law and university policy.

Sexual assault is any unwanted, non-consensual sexual act in which a person is threatened, coerced or forced to comply against their will, or where a person is unable to give consent because they are a minor, unconscious, asleep or incapacitated due to drugs or alcohol. Sexual assault can include unwanted, non-consensual oral, anal or vaginal sexual intercourse, penetration with a foreign object (i.e. fingers, sex toys, etc.) or sexual battery (non-consensual touching of the breasts, buttocks or genetalia).

Perpetrators of sexual assault may be known or unknown to the victim; they might be a date, partner, spouse, acquaintance, family member or stranger.

In California, consent is defined as positive cooperation; it must be freely and voluntarily given, and all participants must have knowledge and understanding of the act. Consent cannot be given where:

  • Force, threat of force, coercion or fraud is used to gain compliance
  • Someone is incapacitated due to alcohol or other drug use
  • Someone is asleep or unconscious
  • Someone is under the legal age of consent (18 years old in California)

Consent can also be revoked, even in the middle of a sex act. If someone physically or verbally communicates to the other person that they do not wish to continue with the sexual act or encounter, that other person must immediately stop. If they do not stop when asked, any sex act after consent has been revoked is considered assault.

Domestic violence is defined as abuse committed against an adult or a minor who is a spouse or former spouse, cohabitant or former cohabitant, or someone with whom the abuser has a child, and has an existing dating or engagement relationship, or has had a former dating or engagement relationship.

Dating violence is defined as abuse committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim.

Stalking is behavior in which a person repeatedly engages in conduct directed at a specific person that places that person in reasonable fear of his or her safety or the safety of others.

Additional information about sexual violence, including resources and options for reporting, can be found at:

What does it look like?

Dating/domestic violence

One day you notice that a student in your program has scratches and bruises all over their face.  When you ask if they’re ok, they tell you that their partner hit them last night and they are afraid to go home after class.


A co-worker asks you out on a date. You politely decline. The colleague asks you again the next day, and again you say no. Later that day, you check your phone and see that your co-worker has sent you 12 texts about how great you are.  The next day, you see your colleague outside your apartment building looking at your window.  You have never given them your address.

Sexual Assault

Pat and Abayomi are in the lab late one night to work on an experiment.  Abayomi thinks Pat is being nice when Pat offers to walk Abayomi home. Abayomi invites Pat inside so they can continue their conversation. Pat starts to kiss Abayomi, and Abayomi readily kisses back. When Pat starts touching Abayomi’s genitals, Abayomi pushes Pat’s hand away and says, “So, what were we talking about before?”  Pat becomes more forceful, and continues to fondle Abayomi.

Relevant policies
What can I do about it?

It is important to remember that while we can take steps to minimize risk, the only person to blame when sexual violence occurs is the perpetrator.

Strategies you can use to minimize risk of sexual assault include:

  • Trust your gut instinct.  If a situation doesn’t feel right, don’t worry about offending someone, just leave.
  • Notice when someone doesn’t respect your boundaries.  Don’t be afraid to assert your right to have your boundaries respected.
  • Most perpetrators of sexual violence will look for vulnerable targets: appear to not be aware of their surroundings, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, isolated from their friends, etc.
  • Control access to your home, dorm room or car by locking your doors and closing windows if they provide easy access
  • Travel in groups when possible
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help in situations where you feel unsafe: ask for an escort to your car, tell your friends you want to leave the party, ask a friend to stay with you, etc.
How can HDAPP help?

HDAPP is the office of record if a survivor chooses to report sexual violence to UC Davis. A survivor has the option to report to the university, to report to the police, to do both or to do neither. If a survivor needs support in making their decision, they can visit any of the Confidential Resources (hyperlink) to discuss their situation openly and completely confidentially.

HDAPP works closely with the Center for Advocacy Resources and Education (CARE) in matters of sexual violence to ensure safety and provide needed resources.

If a survivor wishes to report sexual violence to UC Davis, HDAPP will meet with the survivor to explain the process for making a report to UCD and what to expect. A victim advocate from CARE can accompany the survivor to the meeting, if the survivor wishes for the advocate to be there.

After the survivor meets with HDAPP, the University will determine if a formal investigation is necessary. Usually in cases of sexual violence, a formal investigation will be charged, so the Title IX Officer will appoint an official investigator. The survivor and the accused (“respondent”) will be notified of the investigation. The investigator will conduct separate interviews with the survivor, the respondent and other potential witnesses. The investigator may recommend that certain steps (interim protections) be taken to protect the survivor or witnesses at any time during the investigation. The investigator will prepare and submit a report addressing whether or not University policy was violated. If there is a finding of a policy violation, the University will consider disciplinary action against the respondent and/or other remedies that may be appropriate for the survivor.


HDAPP provides consultation services for anyone with questions and concerns about sexual violence.  We are happy to speak with you or someone you know, and can offer clarification, support and resources.  For supervisors, faculty members and other Designated Officials, HDAPP is the office to call when you receive a report of sexual violence from any member of the campus community.  We can work together with you to ensure that support and services are made available to those who need them, and we can help you manage and address the issues that arise when you are put on notice.

HDAPP maintains a strong focus on preventing sexual violence through education. HDAPP includes discussion of sexual violence in all harassment and discrimination programming for student groups, classes, staff and faculty upon request.  We also are happy to work with our campus partners such as the Center for Advocacy Resources and Education (CARE) and the Student Life Centers to provide programming that addresses broader issues of sexism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia and more.  We are available upon request to provide training tailored to the specific needs of any student, staff or faculty group.