Sexual misconduct is the term used within the context of an organisation such as the University of Sussex to refer to any act of sexual violence about which a formal complaint or report is made to either Student Discipline or Human Resources. This would also include any contravention of our Relationships Policy.
Sexual violence and Sexual misconduct are both over-arching, umbrella terms used to describe a wide range of non-consensual behaviours.
The age of consent (agreement) to any form of sexual activity in the UK is 16 regardless of gender, sexual orientation or culture and whether the sexual activity is between people of the same or different gender. It is an offence for a person to intentionally touch another person sexually without reasonable belief that they consented. Touching covers all physical contact, whether with a part of the body or anything else, or through clothing.
Consenting to one form of sexual activity does not mean imply consent to any other e.g., kissing doesn’t mean you’ve agreed to anything else.
Consent can be withdrawn at any point and at any time.
Consenting on one occasion does not imply consent at another.
Consent cannot be legally given if a person is drunk or high on drugs.
Watch videos and read articles about consent on our consent web page.
Sexual harassment is unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature. To be sexual harassment, the unwanted behaviour must have either:
- violated someone's dignity, whether it was intended or not
- created a hostile environment for them, whether it was intended or not
Examples of sexual harassment include:
- Verbal harassment such as whistling, catcalling, sexual comments, sexual innuendo, telling sexual jokes and stories, spreading rumour about a person’s sex life
- nonverbal harassment such as looking someone up and down, displaying pictures of a sexual nature, sending emails containing sexual content, making sexual gestures, and asking for sex
- The placement, dissemination, or circulation of any unwelcome written or graphic material (in hard copy or electronic form) that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group because of gender or gender identity.
Some forms of sexual harassment may overlap with other criminal offences such as those relating to sexual offences, harassment, stalking, and revenge porn.
What to do if you have just been raped or sexually assaulted (students)
What to do if you have just been raped or sexually assaulted (staff)
What support is available for you as a student?
What support is available for you as a member of staff?