Center for Health Education & Wellness


Common Terms

Relationship Abuse - Relationship abuse is a pattern of abusive and coercive behaviors used to maintain power and control over a former or current intimate partner. Abuse can be emotional, financial, sexual or physical and can include threats, isolation, and intimidation.

Consent - An expressed agreement by all partners to engage in sexual acts of any kind without coercion and/or force. Consent is verbally expressed and is not implied if someone does not say “no.”  The age of consent in Tennessee is 13.

Date Rape Drugs - People under the influence of date rape drugs may not be able to resist sexual advances, and may not be aware of the attack until 8-12 hours after it occurs due to memory lapses. Victims may not be aware that they ingested a drug at all, because date rape drugs are invisible and odorless when dissolved in liquid.  The drugs also metabolize quickly so there may be little physical evidence, such as that obtained through a blood sample during evidence collection. Examples are Rohypnol or “roofies,” GHB, and Ketamine.

HIV prophylaxis medication - When someone may have been exposed to HIV, such as in the case of unprotected anal or vaginal sex, they may take a course of antiretroviral drugs over four weeks which is thought to reduce the risk of contracting HIV.  These drugs should be taken as quickly as possible after the event and must be prescribed by a physician.

Morning-after pill or Plan B - The Morning-after pill is a type of emergency birth control (contraception).  The purpose of emergency contraception is to prevent pregnancy after a woman has had unprotected sex. Morning-after pills contain either levonorgestrel (Plan B One-Step, Next Choice) or ulipristal (Ella).

Rape - The unlawful sexual penetration of a victim.

Rape Kit - A rape kit may also be referred to as:

  • Sexual assault evidence collection kit
  • Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFE) kit
  • Sexual Offense Evidence Collection (SOEC) kit
  • Physical Evidence Recovery Kit (PERK) kit
    • Following a sexual assault, the victim has the option to go to the hospital to have a forensic examination by a trained professional. During a forensic medical exam, a sexual assault evidence collection kit may or may not be used. The evidence kit affords the opportunity to collect any DNA that may have been left by the suspect. The kit contains tools that may be used by the examiner for evidence collection during the forensic medical exam. A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) or forensic examiner who has received specialized training performs the exam. Trained professionals are able to maintain chain of custody to assure that the evidence can be used in court. Once the examination is completed and all specimens are collected, they are carefully packaged and stored to assure that they are not contaminated. They are maintained under chain of custody until further action is taken.

Restraining Order (Criminal or Civil) - A restraining order, or protective order, is a legal order issued by a state court which requires one person to stop harming another, for a variety of reasons. The term is most commonly used to reference domestic violence, harassment, stalking, or sexual assault. Breaches of restraining orders can be considered serious criminal offenses.

Sexual Assault - Sexual assault and abuse is any type of sexual activity that you do not agree to, including:

  • Inappropriate touching
  • Vaginal, anal, or oral penetration
  • Sexual intercourse that you say no to
  • Rape
  • Attempted rape
  • Child molestation

Sexual assault can be verbal, visual, or anything that forces a person to join in unwanted sexual contact or attention. Examples of this are voyeurism (when someone watches private sexual acts), exhibitionism (when someone exposes him/herself in public), incest (sexual contact between family members), and sexual harassment. It can happen in different situations, by a stranger in an isolated place, on a date, or in the home by someone you know.

Sexual Harassment - Sexual harassment is intimidation, bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors.

Stalking - A pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.

Survivor - A person who is empowered to overcome the trauma of being a victim of a crime.

Victim - A term used to describe someone who has experienced the crime and trauma of interpersonal violence whether the crime has been reported to the police or not.

Information adapted from:

Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness – What Is Relationship Abuse?
MedicineNet.com – Date Rape Drugs
Avert.org: Post-exposure Prophylaxis
Mayo Clinic: The Morning After Pill
RAINN.org: What is a rape kit?

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