These definitions are provided as a quick reference.  Full definitions of these terms can be found in the Sexual Misconduct and Harassment Policy.


Coercion is the use of pressure that compels another individual to initiate or continue sexual activity against their will. Coercion can include a wide range of behaviors, including intimidation, manipulation, implied threats or blackmail which places a person in fear of immediate harm or physical injury or causes a person to engage in unwelcome sexual activity. A person’s words or conduct are sufficient to constitute coercion if they wrongfully impair another individual’s freedom of will and ability to choose whether or not to engage in sexual activity. Examples of coercion include threatening to “out” someone based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression and threatening to harm oneself if the other party does not engage in the sexual activity. Coercing an individual into engaging in sexual activity violates this policy in the same way as physically forcing someone into engaging in sexual activity.

Consent consists of an active, conscious, and voluntary decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity. Consent must exist from the beginning to the end of each sexual activity or each form of sexual contact. An individual who is physically incapacitated by alcohol or other drug consumption (voluntary or involuntary) or is asleep, unconscious, unaware, or otherwise physically helpless is considered unable to give consent.

The following are essential elements of consent:

Informed and reciprocal

All parties must demonstrate a clear and mutual understanding of the nature and scope of the act to which they are consenting and a willingness to do the same thing, at the same time, in the same way.

Freely and actively given 

Consent cannot be gained by force, coercion, deception, threats; by ignoring or acting in spite of the objections of another; or by taking advantage of the incapacitation of another individual.

Mutually understandable

Consent consists of mutually understandable words and/or actions that indicate an unambiguous willingness to engage freely in sexual activity. In the absence of clear communication or outward demonstration, there is no consent. A person who does not physically resist or verbally refuse sexual activity is not necessarily giving consent. Consent may not be inferred from silence, passivity, lack of resistance or lack of active response. Relying solely upon non-verbal communication can lead to a misunderstanding or false conclusion as to whether consent was sought or given.

If at any time during the sexual activity, an individual is hesitant, confused, uncertain, or is no longer an enthusiastic participant, both parties should stop and clarify verbally the other’s willingness to continue before continuing such activity.

Not indefinite

Either party may withdraw consent at any time. Withdrawal of consent may be expressed by “no” or outwardly demonstrated by words or actions that clearly indicate a desire to end sexual activity. Once consent is withdrawn, sexual activity must cease immediately.

All parties must obtain mutually understandable consent before continuing further sexual activity. Recognizing the dynamic nature of sexual activity, individuals choosing to engage in sexual activity must evaluate consent in an ongoing manner and communicate clearly throughout all stages of sexual activity.

 Not unlimited

Consent to one form of sexual contact does not constitute consent to all forms of sexual contact, nor does consent to sexual activity with one person constitute consent to activity with any other person. Each participant in a sexual encounter must consent to each form of sexual contact with each participant.

Individuals with a previous or current intimate relationship do not automatically give either initial or continued consent to sexual activity. Even in the context of a relationship, consent must be based on mutually understandable communication that clearly indicates a willingness to engage in sexual activity each time such activity occurs. The mere fact that there has been prior intimacy or sexual activity does not, by itself, imply consent to future acts.

In the State of Maine, consent cannot be given by minors who are 14 or 15, if the actor is at least 5 years older than the minor. Consent cannot be given by minors under 14 years of age, regardless of the age of the Responding Party. For this reason, any sexual act with an individual under 14 is considered a felony.


Force is the use or threat of physical violence, intimidation, or coercion to overcome an individual’s freedom of will to choose whether or not to participate in sexual activity. Such action would cause a person to fear for their physical or psychological well-being. For the use of force to be demonstrated, there is no requirement that a Reporting Party resists the sexual advance or request. However, resistance by the Reporting Party will be viewed as a clear demonstration of non-consent.


Incapacitation is a state where an individual cannot make an informed and rational decision to engage in sexual activity because they lack conscious knowledge of the nature of the act (e.g., to understand the who, what, when, where, why or how of the sexual interaction). Incapacitation is defined as the inability, temporarily or permanently, to give consent because the individual is mentally and/or physically unable to make informed, reasonable judgments. An individual is incapacitated, and therefore unable to give consent, if they are asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware that sexual activity is occurring.

Incapacitation may result from the use of alcohol and/or drugs. Incapacitation is a state beyond drunkenness or intoxication. Consumption of alcohol or other drugs alone is insufficient to establish incapacitation. The impact of alcohol and drugs varies from person to person; however, warning signs that a person may be approaching incapacitation include slurred speech, vomiting, unsteady gait, odor of alcohol, combativeness, loss of consciousness, or emotional volatility.

Evaluating incapacitation requires an assessment of how the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs affects an individual’s:

  • decision-making ability;
  • awareness of consequences;
  • ability to make informed judgments; or
  • capacity to appreciate the nature and the quality of the act.

Evaluating incapacitation also requires an assessment of whether a person should have been aware of the Reporting Party’s incapacitation based on objectively and reasonably apparent indications of impairment when viewed from the perspective of a reasonable person.

An individual who engages in sexual activity with someone the individual knows or reasonably should know is incapable of making a rational, reasonable decision about whether to engage in sexual activity is in violation of the Bates Sexual Misconduct and Harassment Policy.

Indecent Exposure

A person commits indecent exposure if that person intentionally shows their genitals in a public place or in another place where there are other persons present under circumstances in which one knows or should know that this conduct is likely to affront or alarm.

Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate partner violence refers to dating violence, domestic violence or relationship violence. Intimate partner violence includes any act of violence or threatened act of violence against a person who is in, or has been involved in, a sexual, dating, domestic, or other intimate relationship with the Responding Party. Intimate partner violence can encompass a broad range of behavior including, but not limited to, physical violence, sexual violence, emotional abuse, and economic abuse. It may involve one act or an ongoing pattern of behavior. Intimate partner violence may take the form of threats, assault, property damage, violence, or threat of violence to one’s self, one’s sexual or romantic partner or to the family members or friends of the sexual or romantic partner. Intimate partner violence affects individuals of all genders, gender identities, gender expressions, and sexual orientation and does not discriminate by racial, social, or economic background.

The college will not tolerate intimate partner violence of any form. For the purposes of this policy, the college does not define intimate partner violence as a distinct form of misconduct. Rather, the college recognizes that sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, harm to others, stalking, and retaliation all may be forms of intimate partner violence when committed by a person who is or has been involved in a sexual, dating or other social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the Reporting Party.

Examples of intimate partner violence include, but are not limited to:

  • Striking, grabbing, punching, choking, or pushing one’s partner, or threatening to do any of the foregoing;
  • Throwing, smashing, or breaking objects;
  • Restricting one’s partner’s physical movements;
  • Constantly texting or calling when not together;
  • Threatening to “out” or disclose personal information of one’s partner;
  • Insisting on knowing where one’s partner is located;
  • Forcing faith practices on one’s partner;
  • Mocking or ridiculing one’s religious or spiritual beliefs; or
  • Hiding or destroying one’s visa, immigration paperwork, or other important legal documents.

Non-Consensual Sexual Contact

Non-consensual sexual contact is defined as having intentional physical contact of a sexual nature with another individual:

  1. By the use of force or threat of force;
  2. Without consent; or
  3. Where that individual is incapacitated or physically and/or mentally unable to make informed and reasonable judgments.

Non-consensual sexual contact includes: touching the intimate parts of another; touching a person with one’s own intimate parts; forcing a person to touch another’s intimate parts; forcing a person to touch their own intimate parts; or disrobing or exposure of another without permission. Intimate parts may include the breasts or chest, genitals, buttocks, groin, mouth, or any other part of the body that is touched in a sexual manner, or the clothing covering the same.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is defined as having or attempting to have sexual intercourse with another individual, including:

  1. By the use of force or threat of force;
  2. Without consent; or
  3. Where that individual is incapacitated or physically and/or mentally unable to make informed and reasonable judgments.

Sexual intercourse includes vaginal or anal penetration, however slight, with a body part (e.g., penis, tongue, finger, hand) or object, or oral penetration involving mouth to genital contact.

Sexual Exploitation

Sexual exploitation occurs when an individual takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for one’s own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited.

Examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to:

  • Surreptitiously observing another individual’s nudity or sexual activity or allowing another individual or group to observe consensual sexual activity without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved;
  • Non-consensual sharing or streaming of images, photography, video, or audio recording of sexual activity or nudity, or distribution of such without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved;
  • Distributing sexually intimate or sexual information about another person;
  • Prostituting an individual;
  • Inducing another to expose their own genitals in non-consensual circumstances;
  • Knowingly exposing another individual to a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or virus without their knowledge;
  • Sexually-based stalking and/or bullying;
  • Inducing incapacitation for the purpose of making another person vulnerable to non-consensual sexual activity; and
  • Knowingly assisting another person with committing an act of sexual misconduct.


Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, written, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature when one or more of the following occur:

  1. Submission to or rejection of such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual’s employment, evaluation of academic work, or participation in any aspect of a college program or activity;
  2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for decisions affecting the individual; or
  3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or equal opportunity to participate in or benefit from college employment, programs or activities. That is, the conduct is sufficiently serious, pervasive or persistent as to create an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, demeaning, or sexually offensive working, academic, residential, or social environment under both a subjective and an objective standard.

Sexual harassment also includes harassment based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, which may include acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex/gender or sex/gender stereotyping, even if the acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature.

A single or isolated incident of sexual harassment alone may create a hostile environment if the incident is sufficiently severe. The more severe the conduct, the less need there is to show a repetitive series of incidents to create a hostile environment, particularly if the harassment is physical. The determination of whether an environment is “hostile” must be based on all the circumstances. These circumstances could include, but are not limited to:

  1. The frequency of the speech or conduct;
  2. The nature and severity of the speech or conduct;
  3. Whether the conduct was physically threatening;
  4. Whether the speech or conduct was humiliating;
  5. The effect of the speech or conduct on the Reporting Party’s mental and/or emotional state;
  6. Whether the speech or conduct was directed at more than one person;
  7. Whether the speech or conduct arose in the context of other discriminatory conduct;
  8. Whether the speech or conduct unreasonably interfered with the Reporting Party’s educational opportunities or performance (including study abroad), college-controlled living environment, or work opportunities or performance;
  9. Whether a statement is a mere utterance of an epithet which engenders offense in an employee or a student or offends by mere discourtesy or rudeness; and/or
  10. Whether the speech or conduct deserves the protections of academic freedom.


Sexual harassment:

  • May be blatant and intentional and involve an overt action, a threat or reprisal, or may be subtle and indirect, with a coercive aspect that is unstated;
  • Does NOT have to include intent to harm, be directed at a specific target, or involve repeated incidents;
  • May be committed by anyone, regardless of gender, age, position or authority. While there is often a power differential between two persons, perhaps due to differences in age, social, educational or employment relationships, harassment can occur in any context;
  • May be committed by a stranger, an acquaintance, or someone with whom the Reporting Party has an intimate or sexual relationship;
  • May be committed by or against an individual or may be a result of the actions of an organization or group;
  • May occur by or against an individual of any sex, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation;
  • May occur in the classroom, in the workplace, in residential settings, or in any other setting;
  • May be a one-time event or can be part of a pattern of behavior;
  • May be committed in the presence of others or when the parties are alone; and
  • May affect the Reporting Party and/or third parties who witness or observe harassment and are affected by it.

Examples of conduct that may constitute sexual harassment as defined above may include a severe, persistent or pervasive pattern of unwelcome conduct that includes one or more of the following:

  1. Physical conduct
    • Unwelcome touching, sexual/physical assault, impeding, restraining, or blocking movements;
    • Unwanted sexual advances within the employment or academic context;
  2. Verbal conduct
    • Making or using derogatory comments, epithets, slurs or humor;
    • Verbal abuse of a sexual nature, graphic verbal commentaries about an individual’s body, sexually degrading words used to describe an individual, suggestive or obscene letters, notes or invitations;
    • Objectively offensive comments of a sexual nature, including persistent or pervasive sexually explicit statements, questions, jokes, or anecdotes;
  3. Visual or non-verbal conduct
    • Leering, making sexual gestures, displaying of suggestive objects or pictures, cartoons or posters in a public space or forum;
    • Severe, persistent, or pervasive visual displays of suggestive, erotic, or degrading sexually oriented images that are not pedagogically appropriate; and
  4. Written conduct
    • Letters, notes or electronic communications containing comments, words, or images described above.

Sexual Misconduct

Sexual misconduct is a broad term encompassing sexual assault, non-consensual sexual contact, sexual exploitation, intimate partner violence, stalking, indecent exposure, and sexual harassment. Sexual misconduct includes any unwelcome sexual contact, either directly or through clothing, which is committed by threat, or by force, or without the consent of the other person. Sexual contact may include deliberate contact between a body part of, or an object wielded by, one person, and the body part of another person.

Sexual misconduct can occur between strangers or acquaintances, including people involved in an intimate or sexual relationship. Sexual misconduct can be committed by people of any gender or sexual orientation.


Stalking occurs when a person engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts toward another person, under circumstances that would:

  1. Place the person in reasonable fear for safety, or of harm or bodily injury to self or others; or
  2. Reasonably cause substantial emotional distress to the person.

A course of conduct refers to a pattern of behavior of two or more acts over a period of time that can be reasonably regarded as likely to alarm, harass, or cause fear of harm or injury to that person or to a third party. The feared harm or injury may be physical, emotional, or psychological, or related to the personal safety, property, education, or employment of that individual. Stalking may involve individuals who are known to one another, including those who have an intimate or sexual relationship, or may involve individuals who are not known to one another.

Stalking includes cyber-stalking, a particular form of stalking in which technological means are used to pursue, harass, or make unwelcome contact with another person in an unsolicited fashion. Such methods include the use of the Internet, emails, social media, or blogs; landlines and cell phones; text messaging; global positioning systems; spyware on a person’s computer or cellphone; or other similar devices or forms of contact.

Examples of stalking include, but are not limited to:

  • Non-consensual communication including telephone calls, text messages, email messages, social network site postings, letters, gifts, or any other communications that are unwanted and/or place another person in fear;
  • Following, pursuing, waiting or showing up uninvited at a classroom, workplace, residence, or other locations frequented by the person;
  • Leaving unwanted written messages, objects or gifts;
  • Vandalizing a person’s property;
  • Surveillance and other types of observation by physical proximity or electronic means,
  • Accessing email and social media accounts;
  • Spreading lies or rumors about a person, for example, filing false reports, posting or distributing personal or false information;
  • Manipulative or controlling behaviors, such as threats to harm oneself in order to force contact;
  • Assaulting or killing the victim’s pet;
  • Threatening physical contact against a person or their friends and family; or
  • Any combination of these behaviors directed toward an individual person.

State of Maine Laws on Sexual Assault

The State of Maine laws concerning sexual assault are found in several places. The relevant statutory titles and sections are: Title 17, sections 251-261-A