Interpersonal Violence

SHARPP is a resource on campus whose mission is to bolster prevention of and response to incidents of interpersonal violence within the UNH community. Anyone can experience interpersonal violence regardless of their gender identity, sexual orientation, age, ability status, race, or other identities. This page provides additional information about what interpersonal violence is and how it shows up at UNH.

What is interpersonal violence? (IPV)

"Interpersonal violence" (or IPV) may be a term that is new to some. At SHARPP we use this as an umbrella term referring to experiences of sexual assault, stalking, sexual harassment, and relationship abuse. You may be familiar with other language, such as domestic violence, sexual misconduct, rape, intimate partner violence, etc. These are synonyms for or specific versions of the forms of violence that fall under IPV. We use the term interpersonal violence to be inclusive of a variety of experiences and dynamics.

While these forms of interpersonal violence are described separately on this page, they are not always distinct or isolated from each other. Someone may experience various or co-occurring forms of violence. SHARPP is a resource for students, faculty, and staff at the University of New Hampshire who have been impacted by all forms of interpersonal violence. Confidential advocates can be reached 24/7 at (603) 862-7233.

Expand any of the sections below to learn more about each form of interpersonal violence. 

Sexual assault is a term used to describe sexual contact without explicit consent. Read more about consent .
Sexual assault refers to a variety of behaviors including but not limited to:

  • Sexual touching of someone’s body without their expressed permission
  • Forcing someone to perform sexual acts on another person
  • Penetration of someone’s body by another person or object without their consent.

At UNH, 13% of students reported experiencing some form of sexual violence[1] with over half of those experiences occurring during the person's first year on campus. This rate is consistent with national data surrounding campus sexual violence[2]. UNH and national data also reflect that experiences of violence are often more common for trans & gender-expansive students, queer students, disabled students, and students of Color. Research here at UNH and nationally continues to show that the perpetrators of sexual violence are most often known to the victim as a friend, acquaintance, partner, or family member.

SHARPP recognizes that some members of our community have experienced sexual assault prior to coming to UNH and may need support around those experiences. SHARPP advocates are trained to offer support and space for survivors regardless of whether their experience happened during their time at UNH or before they were a member of our community.

Sexual assault is addressed under both NH state laws and UNH’s student conduct rules. If you’re interested in speaking to someone confidentially about an experience you’ve had, please reach out to SHARPP.
Learn more about reporting to UNH or law enforcement - Reporting Options

[1] UNH 2019 Climate Survey   [2] AAU 2019 Climate Survey

Stalking is a pattern of behavior (or series of actions) directed at a person that causes them to feel fear or in danger. This can include repeated unwanted contact, monitoring someone via social media, sending unwanted gifts, hacking into social media accounts or email, and driving by or hanging out at someone’s house/residence hall, workplace, or classroom. Stalking is often unpredictable and dangerous. Most of the time, people experiencing stalking know the person who is stalking them, and it is typically a current or former partner, classmate, friend, or acquaintance.

This form of interpersonal violence is more common than many people realize, especially among people ages 18-24 who experience stalking at higher rates than any other age demographic. Despite this, 43% of college stalking victims who meet the legal criteria do not identify or label their experience that way. This is due to many factors, including a lack of specific & fact-based education, widespread misinformation & myths about stalking, and social norms that normalize, minimize, or romanticize stalking behaviors[1].

Patterns of stalking can be difficult to distinguish, and therefore it is important to understand the broader context and impact of the behaviors. As we spend more of our time online and engaged with technology, there are more ways for individuals to use this technology to cause harm to others. SHARPP recognizes the role of technology in stalking and other forms of interpersonal violence and is available to provide support and services to address these experiences.

[1] Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center - Campus Stalking Infographic

Sexual harassment includes behaviors such as unwelcome sexual advances and verbal or physical actions that negatively interfere with someone’s life, particularly in a work or school environment. Sexual harassment broadly can be broken into two categories:

  • Quid pro quo harassment refers to a dynamic in which someone’s education or employment status/opportunities (such as hiring decisions, promotions, performance evaluations, class or work schedule, grades etc.) are based on their submission to unwelcome sexual advances or granting/denial of “sexual favors.”
  • Hostile environment harassment refers to a situation in which unwanted/unwelcomed verbal or nonverbal behavior focuses on the sexuality of another person or occurs because of their gender identity/expression, and is severe or pervasive enough to affect their work/educational environment.

Sexual harassment is a tactic of control, not an expression of desire or libido. Many people experience sexual attraction and never go on to harass others; harassment is perpetrated in order to express dominance or power, organizationally or socially control someone, attempt to seek peer approval, and/or as a bullying tactic. It is a form violence and a violation of UNH policy.

Relationship abuse refers to a pattern of behavior that is used to gain & maintain power and control over another person. Relationship abuse can include physical, sexual, financial, verbal, or emotional acts or threats that influence another person. Abusive behaviors in a relationship are those that may cause a partner to experience fear, intimidation, manipulation, humiliation, or be injured in some way.

  • Physical abuse is what we often think of regarding relationship abuse. This may include damaging property, throwing objects, punching walls, kicking doors etc. when angry or to intimidate a partner. It may also include hitting, punching, slapping, kicking, choking a partner.
  • Emotional abuse may look like name-calling, insults, constant criticism, humiliation & belittlement, extreme jealousy and possessiveness, monitoring a partner’s movements on social media or via other means, constantly checking up and monitoring where someone goes or who they spend their time with, threatening suicide or self-harm to try and change a partner’s behavior.
  • Sexual abuse includes behaviors such as treating a partner as an object and adhering to rigid gender roles, forcing or manipulating a partner into performing sexual acts, hurting a partner during sexual acts, ignoring a partner’s feelings or needs regarding sex.
  • Financial abuse can include things like using a partner’s name for loans, debts, accounts etc. that can have an impact on someone’s credit, controlling a partner’s access to financial resources, interfering with someone's employment or education.

All forms of abuse in relationships can have a significant impact on a survivor's life. SHARPP recognizes that not all abuse is physical and provides support, information, and services to individuals who have experienced all types of abuse. Advocates are available to individuals who have concerns about their or a loved one's relationship, and experiencing physical violence is not required to seek support.