What is Relationship Violence, Sexual Misconduct and Stalking?

Relationship violence (dating violence/domestic violence), sexual misconduct (sexual assault, sexual exploitation, and sexual or gender-based harassment), and stalking are collectively referred to as “Prohibited Conduct.” Through the Relationship Violence, Sexual Misconduct and Stalking Policy and supporting procedures, Northern Michigan University (“NMU”) addresses Prohibited Conduct pursuant to its obligations under state and federal law. 

Relationship Violence
Relationship Violence, also referred to as dating violence, domestic violence, or intimate partner violence, is any act (or threatened act) of violence or pattern of abusive behavior that one person uses against a current or former partner in a sexual, dating, spousal, domestic, or intimate relationship, to gain or maintain power and control over another.  Relationship violence may include any form of prohibited sexual misconduct under this Policy. 

The determination of whether any conduct constitutes relationship violence is whether the conduct is so severe, pervasive or persistent as to significantly interfere with an individual’s ability to learn and/or work or cause substantial emotional distress, when judged both objectively (meaning that a “reasonable person” would find the behavior to be emotionally abusive) and subjectively (meaning the impacted individual felt the behavior was emotionally abusive.)

Dating Violence
Violence, or threat of violence, by a person who has been in a romantic or intimate relationship with the Complainant.  Whether there was such a relationship will be gauged by the length, type, and frequency of interaction.

Domestic Violence and Intimate Partner Violence
A felony or misdemeanor crime of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the Complainant, by a person with whom the Complainant shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitation with the Complainant shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabited with the Complainant as a spouse, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the Complainant under the domestic or family violence laws of the applicable jurisdiction, or by any other person against a Complainant who is protected from that person’s act under the domestic or family violence laws of the applicable jurisdiction.  To constitute Domestic Violence or Intimate Partner Violence under this Policy, the relationship between the Respondent and the Complainant must be more than just two people living together as roommates.
 

Sexual Assault
The following behaviors constitute sexual assault:

Non-Consensual Sexual Contact
Any intentional touching of a person’s breasts, inner thighs, buttocks, groin, or genitals without consent. Touching may be over or under the clothing and may include the Respondent touching the Complainant or the Respondent making the Complainant touch the Respondent. 

Non-Consensual Sexual Penetration
Any vaginal or anal intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, or any other intrusion, however slight, of any part of a person’s body or of any object into the genital or anal opening of another person’s body, without consent. Emission of semen is not required.

Sexual Exploitation
Sexual exploitation is any act where one person takes sexual advantage without consent of another person but does not involve actual or attempted physical contact. Sexual exploitation may include but is not limited to:

  • Observing another individual's nudity or sexual activity or allowing another to observe consensual sexual activity without the knowledge and consent of all Parties involved in a place where an individual would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, ;
  • Recording, photographing, transmitting, showing, viewing, streaming, sharing or distributing intimate or sexual images, audio recordings, or sexual information without the knowledge and consent of all Parties involved, or threatening to do so; or
  • Recording or photographing private sexual activity and/or a person’s intimate parts without the consent of all subjects or participants;
  • Exposing one's genitals or inducing another to expose their own genitals in non-consensual circumstances.
  • Prostituting another person.
  • Engaging in sexual activity with another person while knowingly infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), or a sexually-transmitted disease (STD), or infection (STI), without informing the other person of the infection.
  • Causing or attempting to cause the incapacitation of another person (through alcohol, drugs, or any other means) for the purpose of compromising that person’s ability to give consent to sexual activity, or for the purpose of making that person vulnerable to non-consensual sexual activity.
  • Forcing a person to take an action against that person’s will by threatening to show, post, or share information, video, audio, or an image that depicts the person’s nudity or sexual activity.

Sexual or Gender-Based Harassment
Any unwelcome sexual advance, requests for sexual favors, or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, whether verbal, non-verbal, graphic, or physical, when the conditions are outlined in (1), (2), or (3), below, are present.

Gender-based harassment is harassment based on gender, gender identity, or gender expression, which may include acts of aggression, intimidation, or hostility, whether verbal, non-verbal, graphic, or physical, even if the acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature, when the conditions outlined in (1), (2), or (3), below, are present.

  1. Submission to, or rejection of, such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual’s instruction, academic standing, employment, or participation in any University program, activity, or benefit, or activity (e.g. quid pro quo).
  2. Submission to, or rejection of, such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for evaluation in making academic or personnel decisions. (e.g. quid pro quo)
  3. Such conduct creates a hostile environment.  A hostile environment exists when the conduct is sufficiently serious, persistent, or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with, limits, or deprives an individual from participating in or benefiting from the University’s educational, employment, and/or campus-residential experience when viewed through a subjective and objective standard.

Whether sexual harassment is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive to violate this Policy may depend on multiple factors.  In evaluating whether a hostile environment exists, the University will consider the totality of known circumstances.  Not all inappropriate or unwanted sexual conduct is sexual harassment.  Whether the unwanted sexual conduct rises to the level of creating a hostile environment will be determined using both a subjective and objective standard.  However, the person should not be discouraged from reporting unwelcomed sexual conduct simply because they are not certain whether it is severe, persistent or pervasive, or objectively offensive enough to constitute a policy violation.

Examples of Sexual Harassment

Some examples of prohibited sexual harassment include:

  • Deliberate touching which does not contribute to or advance the work, service, or educational activity being conducted.
  • Repeated brushing against or touching of another’s body, which does not contribute to or advance the work, service, or educational activity being conducted.
  • Pressure or demands for a date or for sexual activity with a subordinate by an individual in authority.
  • Repeated requests for a date or for sexual activity.
  • Written/electronic, verbal, pictorial, nonverbal, or actual displays of obscenity which do not contribute to or advance the work, service, or education activity being conducted.

Stalking
Stalking is a course of conduct (i.e., two or more acts) directed at a specific person which would cause a reasonable person under similar circumstances to experience substantial emotional distress, or to fear for their safety or the safety of a third person.  Acts that together constitute stalking may be direct actions or may be communicated by a third party, and can include, but are not limited to, threats of harm to self, others, or property; pursuing or following; non-consensual (unwanted) communications by any means; unwanted gifts; trespassing; and surveillance or other related types of observation.  Stalking also includes cyber-stalking through electronic media, like the internet, social networks, blogs, cell phones, texts, or other similar devices or forms of contact.