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Policy, Terms and Definitions for Sexual Assault, Relationship Violence and Stalking

The Title IX and Gender-Based Discrimination Policy outlines all gender- and sex-based misconduct at Bentley. This policy provides an overview of important definitions, methods of reporting an incident, and prohibited conduct on campus. 

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Terms and Definitions

Consent

Consent is a clear and voluntary agreement to engage in specific acts of sexual contact or activity, communicated through mutually understandable words or actions. Consent is always freely informed and actively given. Consent is an affirmative process. It is the responsibility of the person who wants to engage in sexual activity to make sure that they have received consent. If an individual initiating sexual activity is not sure if they have received consent, they have an obligation to seek additional clarification, as consent cannot be based on assumption. The existence of a dating relationship does not imply consent, and even once consent has been given, it can be withdrawn at any time. If consent is withdrawn, that sexual activity should cease immediately.
Consent can never be assumed or implied. The absence of "No" or silence does not mean that consent has been given. Additionally, consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity.

Consent is not present and may never be obtained:
i. Through the use of coercion, manipulation, intimidation, or force;
ii. From an individual who is incapacitated; or
iii. From an individual who is under the legal age of consent (16 in the state of Massachusetts).

Relationship Violence

At Bentley, relationship violence encompasses dating violence and domestic violence and can involve current or former intimate partners, spouses, social or dating relationships.

Dating Violence and Domestic Violence is any act of violence or pattern of abusive behavior in a relationship. The acts of violence or abuse can be but are not limited to actual or threatened physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, financial, or digital. It is unwanted and causes physical or emotional harm. Relationship violence occurs in both same-sex and opposite-sex relationships. The determination of the existence of a relationship is based on the following factors: the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. All students, faculty, and staff should be aware that the University is prepared to respond to any incidents of dating violence and domestic violence. Individuals found responsible for violating this policy will face sanctions that are commensurate with the severity of the violation, including University expulsion.
Examples of relationship violence include, but are not limited to:

* Physical abuse: hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, hair pulling, or throwing objects at a person.
* Sexual abuse: attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex after physical violence, treating one in a sexually demeaning manner, coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact or behavior without consent, or marital rape.
* Psychological or emotional abuse: a pattern of behavior undermining a person's sense of self-worth or self-esteem, constant criticism, possessiveness, damaging possessions, threats, intimidation, diminishing a person's abilities, name-calling, public humiliation, and damaging a person's relationship with their friends or family.
* Financial abuse: Taking money from or prohibiting access to bank accounts.
* Digital abuse: Controlling social media accounts, or harassment through social media or other forms of technology.

Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault is a form of sexual misconduct that is a violation of University policy as well as federal and state statutes. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts defines sexual assault as "any sexual activity that is forced, coerced, or unwanted" and refers to the crimes of rape and indecent assault and battery. Bentley University adheres to the following definitions of rape and indecent assault and battery:

i. Rape includes penetration (oral, anal, or vaginal) no matter how slight, of any orifice with a body part or any object without effective consent.
ii. Indecent Assault and Battery includes non-consensual sexual contact without penetration.
iii. Incest sexual activity between family members or close relatives.
iv. Statutory rape, which in Massachusetts is when a person has sexual intercourse with an individual under age 16.

The severity of the violation is the same whether the responding party is a stranger or known to the Complainant. All students, faculty, and staff should be aware that the University is prepared to respond to any incidents of sexual assault. Individuals found responsible for violating this policy will face sanctions that are commensurate with the severity of the violation, including University expulsion.

Stalking

Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that is unwelcome and would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety, fear for the safety of others, or suffer emotional distress. Stalking can occur between strangers, individuals who know each other, or individuals who are or were previously in a relationship. Stalking behaviors may include unwanted following or watching, unwelcome gifts, or communications in person, in writing, or through the use of technology. It also includes accessing personal information to monitor a person's activity. Any stalking behavior can be done directly, indirectly, or through a third-party. For purposes of this definition, a reasonable person means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the complainant. Individuals found responsible for violating this policy will face sanctions that are commensurate with the severity of the violation, including University expulsion.