Definitions help us to understand what we mean by certain terms, The terms below include legal definitions as well as those outlined in the university's Dignity and Mutual Respect policy which help to guide complaint processes.   If someone has done something  to another person, without their consent, it will always be taken seriously.  You don't have to fit into a specific definition to tell us that something has happened.


Sexual Assault happens when someone touches another person in a sexual manner or makes another person take part in sexual activity with them, without that person's consent.  This can include rape, attempted rape, kissing, sexual touching (including through clothes) and/or pressing up against another for sexual pleasure.

Sexual Misconduct refers to sexual harassment and sexual assault. It is a broad term that includes any type of action or violence that uses power, control and/or intimidation to harm someone. It can also includes domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. Sexual misconduct occurs when there is no consent given. If someone says ‘no’ to any kind of sexual activity, they are not agreeing to it. Someone doesn't have to say ‘no’ out loud; giving and withdrawing consent can be verbal and non-verbal. 

Sexual Harassment can be defined as "unwanted verbal, visual or physical conduct of a sexual nature, or some other conduct based on sex, which affects a person's working or learning conditions or creates a hostile or humiliating working or studying environment for that person".  This can be face to face, telephone and/or written communication (emails or online) and can include; unnecessary touching, physical assault, coercing sexual intercourse, physical threats and/or insulting or abusive behaviours or gestures, lewd comments, jokes and/or sending inappropriate or sexually offensive images.

Defining Consent 

Taking responsibility to ensure that you have consent is essential in all of our relationships, whether they are sexual or not. This animation explores the power imbalances that can be present in relationships, and the impact this has on a person’s ability to give consent. If you have experienced harm because someone else has not taken responsibility to ensure you have given consent you can seek support.

This animation has been created by Newcastle University Student Health and Wellbeing Services in collaboration with Newcastle University Students. It has taken inspiration from the work of Meg-John Barker, and it animated by Stacy Bias Your Story Studio

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There are two ways you can tell us what happened