Sexual violence (SV) is any sexual act that is perpetrated against someone’s will. SV encompasses a range of offenses, including a completed nonconsensual sex act (i.e., rape), an attempted nonconsensual sex act, abusive sexual contact (i.e., unwanted touching), and non-contact sexual abuse (e.g., threatened sexual violence, exhibitionism, verbal sexual harassment). These four types are defined in more detail below. All types involve victims who do not consent, or who are unable to consent or refuse to allow the act.
A consistent definition is needed to monitor the incidence of SV and examine trends over time. In addition, it helps determine the magnitude of SV and compare the problem across jurisdictions. A consistent definition also helps researchers measure risk and protective factors for victimization in a uniform manner. This ultimately informs prevention and intervention efforts.
Basile KC, Saltzman LE. Sexual violence surveillance: uniform definitions and recommended data elements version 1.0. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; 2002.
Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pub/SV_surveillance.html