Legal Terms 101: Do You Have a Case of Sexual Harassment, Assault, or Abuse?
Sexual harassment. Sexual assault. Sexual abuse. These are terms that many of us are hearing more and more these days as the taboo on sex crimes starts to lift, people are coming into the public eye with their stories, and more understanding is happening to what these legal cases actually are.
However, there is still a lot of fog on what these cases actually are and how they are defined. If you’ve been in a situation yourself, you may have felt abused, harassed, or assaulted, but do you have a case, and if so, which category does it fall under?
For clarity, today we’re going to talk through each of the three categories so you know exactly what they are and what each one defines as from a legal standpoint. Let’s get into it.
What is a Sexual Harassment Case?
Starting from the top, sexual harassment is defined as unwanted sexual behavior that results in three things. It’s behavior that can;
- Create a hostile environment to be in
- Make you feel degraded, embarrassed, or intimidated
- Affect your dignity
You can be sexually harassed anywhere, whether in public, a private space, or at work, and can involve actions like inappropriate sexual jokes, sharing photos or images of sexual content, sending sexual texts, voice memos, or emails, and can involve unwelcomed touching and sexual advances.
What is a Sexual Assault Case?
A sexual assault case is sexual harassment but the next level up. While sexual harassment can vary depending on the person and situation (what is sexual harassment in one interaction could be acceptable flirting in another), sexual assault is clean cut.
Sexual assault is basically any physical action that is nonconsensual. This includes but is not limited to touching, kissing, groping, stroking, rape (any form of penetration), and includes sexual contact under the influence of either drugs or alcohol where the person cannot consent to the action taking place.
Child sexual abuse is also included in this category. In short, if someone says no or doesn’t consent to a sexual activity taking place, it’s sexual assault, and you’ll need the assistance of a sexual misconduct lawyer.
However, a sexual assault case usually refers to a one-off situation, like being at a party, something happening at work, or someone crossing the line on a date.
What is a Sexual Abuse Case?
Sexual abuse is basically the same as sexual assault, but it isn’t just a one-off offense and happens over a longer period of time. Whereas someone may be sexually assaulted at a party by being touched when they don’t want it, sexual abuse would be like a partner being continuously raped and beaten over the course of a few months.
All the same criteria as sexual assault imply here, although other circumstances may be taken into account, such as someone withholding their own money from them, physical assault charges, emotional manipulation, social manipulation, and so on.
So, do you have a case?
If you’re reading any of the definitions above and it sounds like it applies to you, then you may have one on your hands, but every situation depends on the individual circumstances. The best thing to do if you think you’ve experienced any of these situations is to speak to the police and then legal representation to see what they can do for you.