Glossary of Terms


including: pro-social, active bystander, intervene

Someone who is present during an incident. The individual may or may not know what to do, may think others will act, and/or may be afraid to do anything. Sometimes, bystanders try to ignore situations. Other times, bystanders side with the antagonist in a situation. Pro-social bystanders, on the other hand, are the witnesses who take an action to help the situation and promote safety. This type of bystander is sometimes called an “active” bystander so as not to get confused with other types of people witnessing.

The type of action a pro-social bystander can take varies. Sometimes an intervention requires a bystander to say something to a harasser, to the perceived victim, or to a third party. While a bystander can directly call out behaviour, an intervention can also work by simply changing the conversation. Occasionally, a bystander may physically obstruct the two individuals in conflict. Pro-social bystanders should only act in a way that also ensures their own safety.


Where partners both feel and provide support and respect. A healthy relationship as one where (1) you get to be yourself, (2) you have fun, (3) you can say “no”, and (4) you treat others well. In general, a healthy relationship is one where realistic boundaries exist and communication is open and reciprocated.


including: explicit consent, affirmative consent.

Agreement to participate. Must be made free and willingly, without pressure from a partner or other peers. A person’s agreement to an activity can change at any time, even if a person had previously agreed to participate. All participants must also have a clear understanding of which activities each person is agreeing to. The term “affirmative consent” is used to remind partners that consent should be verbal and enthusiastic.

Consent from all partners is required for any type of sexual intimacy to occur. Consent is achieved when a partner asks permission and respects their partner’s response. It is the responsibility of the person initiating sexual intimacy to ask for consent. Most people initiate some portions of sexual intimacy – especially when partners move from one position to another. Consent is required when transitioning to each new activity.


Occurs when someone acts without the consent of another. This broad term covers a spectrum of violations, ranging from rape to unwanted sexual touch. It can also include unwanted sexual experiences where no contact happens, such as sexualised comments or sharing photos of a sexual nature.


To unwillingly compel a partner to engage in sexual activity, through the use of pressure, persistence, guilt, alcohol, drugs, threats, or force. Additionally, when someone does not have the ability to refuse, to disengage, or to say “no,” then the behaviour is coercive. Coercive behaviour is not permissible in a healthy relationship. Examples of this type of behaviour can include refusing to ‘get the hint’ when someone else is uninterested or manipulating a partner with statements like “you’ll do it if you love me.”


including: sexual misconduct, quid pro quo, hostile work environment

Umbrella term for a multitude of unwelcome or violating sexual behaviours. Includes, but is not limited to, sexual advances and verbal conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment is a civil offense under Australian law. Retaliation and stalking are sometimes grouped under sexual harassment, but they also often have their own policies and laws.

In schools and workplaces, sexual harassment may take on the form of “quid pro quo” or a “hostile work environment.” “Quid pro quo” is when a person demands a sexual favour in exchange for a positive outcome for the other person (for example, getting a good grade in class, or not being fired). A “hostile work environment” is a setting where a person’s conduct is so significant that it harms the productivity of another person.

Some institutions like Universities may also have a sexual misconduct policy, which can serve as a non-legal catch-all for unwelcome sexual conduct.


Umbrella term to designate a wide variety of violating behaviours of a sexual nature. Defined as “a person who knowingly subjects another person to any sexual contact without consent.”

Sexual assault includes when a person touches genitalia, breasts, or other body parts of another person in a sexual nature, without consent. Though non-consensual penetration (rape) is one form of sexual assault, these terms are not entirely interchangeable. Sexual assault refers to a broader range of violations.

People of all genders, sexual orientations, race and ethnic background, ability, and age can experience sexual assault.


including: sexual intercourse without consent (SIWOC)

When an act of sexual intimacy that involves penetration is enacted without consent. Penetration is defined as inserting a body part or object into an oral, genital, or anal orifice. Rape can occur when a person penetrates another against their will or when a person makes another person unwillfully penetrate.

This crime has been defined as “a person who knowingly has sexual intercourse with another person without consent or with another person who is incapable of consent.” Aggravated SIWOC  is when a person uses force to commit rape.


including: abuse, teen dating violence, domestic violence, partner or family member assault (PFMA)

A relationship embedded in an imbalance of power and control. Among other things, abuse can take the form of emotional manipulation, financial control, placing limits on a partners whereabouts, and causing physical harm. Teen dating violence, domestic violence, and intimate partner violence are all terms that describe the same abuse of power within a relationship.

Under Australian law a person can be charged when an individual “purposely or knowingly causes bodily injury to a partner or family member; negligently causes bodily injury to a partner or family member with a weapon; or purposely or knowingly causes reasonable apprehension of bodily injury in a partner or family member.” This is just one of many assault and related offences connected with intimate partner violence. Other charges include stalking, strangulation, and intimidation.

People of all genders, sexual orientations, race and ethnic background, ability, and age can experience intimate partner violence.