Within this text you will see the term “sexual assault” and “sexual violence” used interchangeably. These terms are meant to convey any and all unwanted sexual activity, contact, or content that exists within a continuum of violence. Sexual violence is often lumped in with the term “gendered violence” due to the high rates of female victimization and the nature of sexual violence which occurs across gender lines. Therefore, much of the literature focuses exclusively on heterosexual female victimization. However, it is essential to acknowledge that this is not the only form in which violence and victimization occur. Although some of the language in this toolkit will reflect a gender binary, it is not intended to support or perpetuate this arbitrary binary. The restriction of the male/ female binary is reflective of the overall literature of sexual violence research rather than the lived reality of sexual violence.

Further, the use of the term victim has generally been replaced with the word survivor to dispel stereotypical perspectives of sexual violence framing victims as helpless and lacking autonomy. However, much of the language used around discussions of sexual violence is heavily debated and in contention. This is, in part, due to the complexities of individual identity following sexual violence. However, there is significant discussion around the creation of further binaries within survivor/victim narratives and their potential harm. Due to this, the language used in this text is not meant to be comprehensive of these larger nuances and considerations. Instead, it is designed to be accessible and utilize the most commonly used terms and language surrounding discussions of sexual violence.

Guide: PDF Version