Sexual assault is any forced, coerced, unwanted sexual contact. While there are specific legal definitions of rape and sexual assault in the California Penal Code (including but not limited so PC 261, 243.4, 220, 269, 285, 286, 288, 289, 311.3), sexual violence is best understood as a broader continuum of unwanted non-mutual sexual activities that range from subtle to extremely violent.

Sexual assault can include, but is not limited to, the concepts of rape, sexual threats and intimidation, incest, sexual assault by intimate partners, child sexual abuse, human sexual trafficking, sexual harassment, street harassment and other forms of unwelcome, coerced or non-consensual activity. The terms sexual violence and sexual abuse are also often used to describe the wide range of activities that constitute sexual assault.