Loyola University Maryland

Public Safety

Violence against Women Act (VAWA) Definitions

Dating Violence: Violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim.

  1. The existence of such a relationship shall be based on the reporting party’s statement and with consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
  2. For the purposes of this definition-

    Dating violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse.
    Dating violence does not include acts covered under the definition of domestic violence.

  3. For the purposes of complying with the requirements of this section and 668.41, any incident meeting this definition is considered a crime for the purposes of Clery Act reporting.

There is no Maryland law definition of dating violence (it is not distinguished from general crimes of violence, such as assault).

Domestic Violence: A felony or misdemeanor crime of violence committed –

  1. by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim
  2. by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common
  3. by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner
  4. by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of Maryland, or
  5. by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred.

The State of Maryland defines domestic violence “abuse” as the occurrence of one or more assault acts between “family or household members” including: an act that places a person in fear of imminent serious bodily harm, An act that causes serious bodily harm, Rape or sexual offense, Attempt rape or sexual offense; Stalking, False imprisonment, such as interference with freedom, physically keeping you from leaving your home or kidnapping you.

Sexual Assault: An offense that meets the definition of rape, fondling, incest, or statutory rape as used in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program. Per the National Incident-Based Reporting System User Manual from the FBI UCR Program, a sex offense is “any sexual act directed against another person, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent.”

            Rape: The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.

            Fondling: The touching of the private parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her age or because his/her temporary or  permanent mental incapacity.

            Incest: Sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.

            Statutory Rape: Sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.

Sexual Assault is defined by the State of Maryland as any sexual act directed against another person, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent. The actions constituting sexual assault are set forth in Title 3, Subtitle 3 of the Criminal Law Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland and include, but are not limited to the following acts committed by an acquaintance or stranger (“Actor”): Rape forcible sodomy, or forcible sexual penetration, however slight, of another person's anal or genital opening; touching of an unwilling person's intimate parts (defined as genitalia, groin, breast, or buttocks, or clothing covering them); or, forcing an unwilling person to touch another's intimate parts. To constitute sexual assault these acts must be committed either by force, threat, intimidation or through the use of the victim's mental or physical helplessness of which the Actor was aware or should have been aware.

Stalking - Engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to:

            1. Fear for his or her safety or the safety of others; or

            2. Suffer substantial emotional distress.

For the purposes of this definition:

  1. Course of conduct means two or more acts, including, but not limited to, acts which the stalker directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about, a person, or interferes with a person’s property.
  2. Reasonable person means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the victim.
  3. Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.

Stalking: is defined by the State of Maryland as: (Criminal Law Article § 3-801)

(a) a malicious course of conduct that includes approaching or pursuing another where the person intends to place or knows or reasonably should have known the conduct would place another in reasonable fear: of serious bodily injury; of an assault in any degree; of rape or sexual offense as defined by §§ 3–303 through 3–308 of this title or attempted rape or sexual offense in any degree; of false imprisonment; or of death; or that a third person likely will suffer any of the acts listed in item(1) of this subsection. In this subtitle, “course of conduct” means a persistent pattern of conduct, composed of a series of acts over time that shows a continuity of purpose.

Consent: There is no Maryland law definition of consent (it is not distinguished from general crimes of violence, such as assault).

Consent: currently defined by the Loyola University as:

An affirmative indication by words and/or actions of a voluntary agreement to engage in the particular sexual act or conduct in question. Consent for one sexual act or conduct does not constitute consent to all sexual acts or conduct. Consent can be withdrawn at any time, and once withdrawal of consent has been expressed, sexual activity must cease. Consent cannot be obtained through the use of force, threat, intimidation, or coercion. Consent cannot be given by someone who is not able to effectively communicate or to understand the nature of the conduct being engaged in as a result of incapacitation due to consuming drugs or alcohol or for any other reason (including but not limited to being unconscious, being asleep or otherwise unaware that sexual activity is occurring). Incapacitation may also exist because of a physical, mental or developmental disability. Incapacitation is a state where an individual cannot make rationale or reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to give consent (i.e. to understand who, what, where, when, why, and how of a sexual interaction.) Silence or absence of resistance on the part of an individual does not constitute his or her consent.

The definition of consent is used to inform the campus community of the affirmative indication needed for a voluntary agreement to engage in a particular sexual act and to be used during procedures of institutional disciplinary actions in cases of alleged sexual assault.

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