Policy and Definitions


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Consent and Incapacitation

Consent means a clear YES to the specific act in question. Consent is informed, knowing and voluntary. Consent is active, not passive.

Silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as consent.

Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create mutually understandable permission regarding the conditions of sexual activity.

Consent to one form of sexual activity cannot imply consent to other forms of sexual activity.

Previous relationships or consent cannot imply consent to future sexual acts.

Consent must be present throughout the sexual activity -- at any time, a participant can communicate that he or she no longer consents to continuing the activity.

If there is confusion as to whether anyone has consented or continues to consent to sexual activity, it is essential that the participants stop the activity until the confusion can be clearly resolved.

Consent cannot be procured by use of physical force, compelling threats, intimidating behavior, or coercion. Coercion is unreasonable pressure for sexual activity. Coercive behavior differs from seductive behavior based on the type of pressure someone uses to get consent from another. When someone makes clear to you that they do not want sex, that they want to stop, or that they do not want to go past a certain point of sexual interaction, continued pressure beyond that point can be coercive.

In order to give effective consent, one must be of legal age.

If you have sexual activity with someone you know to be, or should know to be, mentally or physically incapacitated by alcohol or other drug use, unconsciousness or blackout, you are in violation of this policy.

Incapacitation is a state where one cannot make a rational, reasonable decision because they lack the ability to understand the who, what, when, where, why or how of their sexual interaction.

The William Paterson University policy also covers someone whose incapacity results from mental disability, sleep, involuntary physical restraint, or from ingesting a "date-rape" drug. Possession, use and/or distribution of any of these substances, including Rohypnol, ketamine, GHB, burundanga, etc. is prohibited, and administering one of these drugs to another student for the purpose of inducing incapacity is a violation of this policy.

A person who is not incapacitated at the beginning of sexual activity, may eventually reach a state of incapacitation as the activity progresses due to alcohol or drug intake prior to or during the activity.

Establishing Consent

Remember that sex without consent is sexual assault. When establishing consent, be aware of the following:

Ask for consent. Don’t assume a partner is OK with what you want to do. Always ask them. Be direct. If you are unsure that you have their consent, ask again.

Communicate. Don’t be afraid to talk about sex and communicate your boundaries, wants, and needs. Encourage your partner to do the same.

Make it fun. Consent does not have to be something that interrupts sex; it can be a part of sex. Checking in with your partner throughout sexual experiences can be a great way to build intimacy and understand your partner’s needs. It can help partners create a healthy and satisfying sex life.

Drugs and/or alcohol increase risk. Intoxication impairs decision-making and can make it impossible to gain someone’s legal consent. Mixing drugs and/or alcohol with sex also can lead to risky behavior, such as unprotected sex.

Dating and Domestic Violence

Domestic/dating violence can be defined as a pattern of abusive behavior that is used by an intimate partner to gain or maintain power and control over the other intimate partner. It can be committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim. It can also be committed by one roommate over another. Domestic/dating violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, wound someone, or destroy someone’s property.

Physical Abuse: Hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, hair pulling, etc are types of physical abuse. This type of abuse also includes denying a partner/roommate medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use upon him or her.

Sexual Abuse: Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact or behavior without consent. Sexual abuse includes, but is certainly not limited to, marital rape, attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex after physical violence has occurred, or treating one in a sexually demeaning manner (more about this in the Sexual Violence section).

Emotional Abuse: Undermining an individual's sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem is abusive. This may include, but is not limited to constant criticism, diminishing one's abilities, name-calling, or damaging one's relationship with his or her children.

Economic Abuse: Is defined as making or attempting to make an individual financially dependent by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding one's access to money, or forbidding one's attendance at school or employment.

Psychological Abuse: Elements of psychological abuse include - but are not limited to - causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner's family or friends; destruction of pets and property; and forcing isolation from family, friends, or school and/or work.

Sexual Violence

Sexual violence takes many forms including attacks such as sexual assault or attempted sexual assault, as well as any unwanted sexual contact or threats. There are three categories of sexual violence: Sexual Assault, Sexual Contact or Lewdness.

Sexual assault occurs when one person penetrates the other by any means, whether vaginally, anally or orally without the consent of the other person

Sexual contact occurs when one person touches the intimate parts of another person's body, even through clothes, without that person's consent. That impermissible touching can be either for the perpetrator to obtain sexual gratification or to degrade or humiliate the other person or to obtain power and control over the other person.

Lewdness involves the perpetrator exposing his/her intimate parts without a person’s consent to obtain sexual gratification or to degrade or humiliate the other person or to obtain power and control over the other person.

Sexual violence in any form is a devastating crime. Offenders commit sexual violence via force, threats, coercion, manipulation, pressure or tricks. A person is considered to be a sexual offender if he/she forces, threatens, coerces, manipulates, pressures or tricks anyone into committing any of the above listed acts on a third person. Whatever the circumstances, no one should be subjected to sexual violence.

No matter who is involved, it is important to understand that sexual violence is not an act of sexual desire or a miscommunication about sexual desire but one of power, control, and entitlement.


Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for her/his safety or the safety of another person or to suffer other emotional distress. Course of conduct is defined as:

  • Repeatedly maintaining a visual or physical proximity to a person; directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means, following, monitoring, observing, surveilling, threatening or communicating to or about, a person; OR
  • Interfering with a person’s property; repeatedly committing harassment against a person; OR Repeatedly conveying, or causing to be conveyed, verbal or written threats or threats conveyed by any other means of communication or threats implied by conduct or a combination thereof directed at or toward a person.
  • Repeatedly conveying, or causing to be conveyed, verbal or written threats or threats conveyed by any other means of communication or threats implied by conduct or combination thereof directed at or toward a person.

Stalking includes any behaviors or activities occurring on at least two occasions that collectively instill fear in a victim, and/or threaten her/ his safety, physical health or cause other severe mental suffering or distress. Such behaviors and activities may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Non-consensual communication, including face-to-face communication, telephone calls, voice messages, e-mails, text messages, written letters, gifts, or any other communications that are undesired and place another person in fear;
  • Use of online, electronic, or digital technologies, including: Posting of pictures or information in chat rooms or on Web sites; Sending unwanted/unsolicited email or talk requests; Posting private or public messages on Internet sites, social networking sites, and/or school bulletin boards; Installing spyware on a victim’s computer; Using Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to monitor a victim;
  • Pursuing, following, waiting, or showing up uninvited at or near a residence, workplace, classroom, or other places frequented by the victim;
    • Surveillance or other types of observation including staring, “peeping”;
    • Trespassing;
    • Vandalism;
    • Non-consensual touching;
    • Direct verbal or physical threats;
    • Gathering information about an individual from friends, family, and/or co-workers;
    • Threats to harm self or others.

If a person is repeatedly attempting to communicate with you by any means, in a threatening or harassing manner, you are encouraged to report it to University Police.

Resources at WP

The WPU Counseling, Health, and Wellness Center
Overlook South (Between Matelson and White Hall)
Telephone: (973) 720-2257 or (973)720-2360
Fax: (973)720-2632

Off-Campus Resources

Passaic County Women’s Center Hotline 973-881-1450
Center for Hope and Safety Hotline 201-944-9600
Healing Space Hotline 201-487-2227
New Jersey Domestic Violence Hotline 800-572-7233
New Jersey Sexual Assault Hotline 800-601-7200
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-8255

Online Resources Pandora’s Project: nonprofit organization dedicated to providing information, support, and resources to survivors of rape and sexual abuse and their friends and family. Online support groups for over 500 issues Adult survivors of child abuse For survivors of domestic and sexual violence For transgender survivors of violence
 Self Help Guide for Trans Survivors of Sexual Violence For male survivors of childhood sexual abuse Empowering youth to end dating abuse Founded in 2010 to honor Yeardley Love, One Love works to ensure everyone understands the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship. Online support for male survivors of sexual abuse

Tips for Families and Friends of Survivors

Many survivors of sexual and dating violence say that what helped them most was the unconditional support of a friend. You don't need to understand what they're going through to be helpful. Even if you don’t know what else to do, saying “I’m sorry this happened to you, you didn't do anything wrong,” can be extremely validating for a survivor to hear. Providing emotional support can go a long way. Unless you have an immediate concern about the health of your friend, understand that they have to make their own decisions. It's not helpful to push someone towards making a choice they’re not ready for and it can be dangerous for victims of dating violence. Sexual assault and dating abuse are about someone else taking control of one's life and body. Recovery depends on getting that control back.

Helping a friend experiencing dating abuse


  • Be there for your friend; listen without giving specific advice.
  • Encourage your friend to get help.
  • Acknowledge your friend’s feelings, and recognize that it’s possible to think you love someone even if they hurt you.
  • Allow friends to make their own decisions.
  • Spend time with your friend.
  • Talk to someone about the best way to help out.

You can call the Campus Victim Services Coordinator too. 973-720-2578

Do Not:

  • Do not pressure your friend to break up.
  • Do not make blaming statements like, “You’re stupid for staying.”
  • Do not tell your friend they cannot love someone who is abusive.
  • Do not place conditions on support, such as “I’ll only be your friend if you end it.”
  • Do not tell your friend how they should be feeling.

Helping a friend who has been sexually assaulted:

  • Always believe the survivor.
  • Do not blame the survivor. Tell them “It’s not your fault.”
  • Listen. Don’t push them to talk.
  • Accept their reactions, whatever they may be.
  • Re-empower the survivor by offering options.
  • Don’t make decisions for them.
  • Educate yourself.
  • Refer them to services on your campus or in the community.

Self-care for the secondary survivor

Because you care for the victim of this crime, it affects you as well. The feelings you have are completely normal and very real – find the help you need to both take care of yourself and be supportive of your loved one.

As much as possible, continue with your life and routine as usual. This may seem very difficult to do, but it allows both you and the survivor to broaden the perspective beyond this experience.

Do not isolate yourself or the survivor from friends who are aware of the sexual assault or abusive relationship. Your true friends will be supportive and understanding.

Know that there is no set period of time for your own recovery. It is an individual process that cannot be predetermined. 
Tips for Friends and Family of Survivors – Pandora’s Project »