Though it is painful to admit, sexual misconduct is still prevalent in our world today. Despite our resources, education, and awareness, sexual crimes continue to occur on a daily basis. This is disheartening and frustrating, to say the least.
Most people understand that sexual violence and harassment are not acceptable behaviors in the workplace, the home, or society at large. Unfortunately, this awareness isn’t always enough. Some types of misconduct happen inadvertently, while other times, a perpetrator willingly chooses to harm someone else for their own satisfaction or personal gain.
It’s important for individuals of all genders, ages, sexual orientations, cultures, and backgrounds to understand the types of sexual misconduct that occur. When we understand, we can help to make sure that these acts don’t happen to others or ourselves. Being educated empowers us to put an end to sexual harassment, assault, and abuse.
Sexual harassment is a broad term, and many situations fit under this umbrella. Many people associate sexual harassment with the workplace. This is logical because workplace sexual harassment happens to about 81% of women in their lifetimes. Sexual harassment includes any unwanted sexual advances, comments, jokes, touches, etc. Usually, sexual harassment happens in a professional setting such as a workplace or school, where there are often additional standards and policies to discourage this behavior alongside the relevant laws.
Many people are familiar with Quid-Pro-Quo sexual harassment, where a person in a position of authority solicits sexual behavior from someone who does not have as much power. This is usually in exchange for a favor such as a promotion, pay raise, etc.
Sexual assault is a much more specific term than sexual harassment. While harassment can encompass verbal actions, sexual assault is specific to physical acts. Unwanted touching, kissing, and groping are all types of sexual assault. This category also includes situations in which a victim is forced to touch an abuser sexually.
Rape is a type of sexual assault. In these instances, an abuser forces a victim to have sex or perform or receive sexual acts despite the victim not consenting (meaning they have not freely agreed to participate in the act). If a victim is unsure, asleep, under the influence, or coerced, they cannot consent. Any sexual act that occurs under such circumstances is considered sexual assault.
Sexual abuse is a term most often used to describe sexual assault perpetrated against children. Until an individual turns 16 or 18, depending on the state, they cannot legally consent to sexual activities. If a sexual activity occurs with a child who has not reached the age of consent, it’s considered sexual abuse.
The specifics of sexual abuse cases can vary greatly, from rape to forcing a child to look at pornographic photos. Any type of sexual activity with a child is a criminal offense and carries serious consequences.
It’s important to remember that people can be abused sexually without being a child. Many adults suffer ongoing abuse of a sexual nature. However, the term “sexual abuse” applies mainly to children when encountered in a legal setting.
What Can I Do If I Experience Sexual Misconduct?
Experiencing sexual harassment, assault, or abuse is incredibly difficult, and many people feel alone when it happens to them. It’s important to remember that you are not alone, and there are people who can help you heal and seek justice.
Your exact plan of action will depend on the specifics of what happened. A good first step is to speak with a trusted figure who has the authority or resources to help you further. If you experience sexual harassment at work, for example, you might first speak to your Human Resources representative if you feel comfortable doing so. If you have been assaulted, you may need to go to the hospital so a medical professional can make sure you’re okay. They can also gather evidence to help your court case if it comes to that.
If you would like to take legal action against your abuser, your next step will be to find a trusted attorney to help you. We will be able to begin building your case and help formulate the legal strategy that works best for you. The sooner you approach an attorney, the more we can help you. The more time that passes, the less evidence we will have to go off of.
Sexual Harassment, Assault and Abuse FAQs
Q: What Is the Difference Between Sexual Harassment and Sexual Abuse?
A: Harassment is a much broader term than abuse. Harassment can encompass physical, verbal, and emotional actions, while abuse is generally understood to be a physical act. Sexual abuse also happens specifically to children. Children cannot consent to sexual activities, so any sexual acts that occur with a child are considered sexual abuse.
Q: What’s the Difference Between Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Assault?
A: “Sexual misconduct” is a broad term used to encompass all kinds of sexual assault and harassment. Legally speaking, “sexual misconduct” is not a defined term. It’s commonly used by the media to refer to sexual assault, sexual abuse, and sexual harassment cases. Sexual assault is a concrete physical, sexual activity that was done to a victim who did not consent.
Q: What Counts as Sexual Harassment?
A: Sexual harassment is a fairly broad term, so it can be difficult to define it. Sexual harassment is any unwanted sexual behavior, especially in professional places such as schools or workplaces. Some instances of sexual harassment are ongoing, while others occur as isolated incidents. Examples of sexual harassment include:
- Making jokes or comments about someone’s body or sex life
- Ogling someone
- Sending suggestive texts, emails, messages, etc.
- Touching or grabbing someone
- Requesting sexual activity in exchange for something else (Quid-Pro-Quo)
Q: What Counts as Sexual Assault?
A: Sexual assault can encompass several activities. However, it does generally refer to physical activities that the perpetrator does without the victim’s consent. Comments or non-physical activities are generally not included in the category of sexual assault. Some common examples of sexual assault include:
- Forced sexual acts
- Rape or attempted rape
- Unwanted touching
There are many more examples of sexual assault. The key part to remember is any physical, sexual behavior for which the victim did not consent can be assault.
Contact The Law Office of Corbett H. Williams
No matter what kind of sexual harassment, assault, or abuse situation you’re going through, our team can help you seek justice for what happened to you. No one should have to work in an environment where they don’t feel safe. For more information on how we can help, contact us.