The Difference Between Sexual Harassment and Sexual AssaultAugust 17, 2021
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, more and more individuals are coming forward with their stories of sexual abuse, including those of sexual assault and harassment. However, while both sexual harassment and sexual assault are serious offenses, they’re very different things. Experiencing one definitely is not the same thing as experiencing the other.
What Exactly is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault, also called sexual battery in California, is the physical invasion of a person’s body. Sexual assault encompasses rape and other unconsented sexual acts that hurt or invade the body, including:
- Unwanted groping or touching
- Attempted rape
- Forcing someone to perform or engage in a sexual act
- Penetrating a victim’s body part with any of the perpetrator’s body parts or an object
In most cases, sexual assault causes not only bodily injury or harm but intense emotional and psychological problems as well.
What Exactly is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment can range from inappropriate gesturing, touching, and joking to a harasser requiring or offering sexual favors in exchange for something the victim wants or deserves in a work or school setting. Common examples of sexual harassment include:
- Inappropriate touching of a body part, hair, face, or clothing
- Inappropriate hugging, massaging, or kissing
- Mooning or flashing
- Blocking a person’s movement or way, particularly in an intimidating or physically threatening manner
- Leering, staring, or making sexual gestures
- Receiving unwanted texts, emails, photos, videos, or messages that are sexual in nature
It’s also crucial to understand that sexual harassment isn’t always sexual in nature and can feel or look like, among others:
- Bullying someone because of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity
- Intimidating, teasing, or making offensive comments based on gender norms, such as how males or females should dress or act
Vital Things to Keep in Mind
It’s never the sexual harassment or sexual assault survivor or victim’s fault, so don’t let anyone shame or blame you. In all cases of sexual harassment or sexual assault, what matters above all else is the experience of the survivor or victim. This means that if another person’s behavior or action made you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, violated your body, or was unwanted, it’s considered sexual harassment or sexual assault.
Even if you didn’t say “no” or “stop” right away or do something to let a harasser know that they’re doing something inappropriate or unwanted, it’s still considered sexual harassment. This also applies to sexual assault cases in which the victim was too inebriated or drunk to give their consent.
Furthermore, it’s still considered sexual assault even if you have consented previously to sexual activity with a person who sexually assaulted you, even if you used to sleep with or date them. Consent should always be given every single time.
Talk to an Experienced Ventura Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Lawyer
If you’re a victim of sexual assault or sexual harassment, or if you are unsure whether you have been sexually harassed or assaulted, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us here at The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC. Our skilled Ventura sexual harassment and sexual assault lawyer can help you understand your case and legal options. Call us at 805-643-5555 or contact us online to schedule your free legal consultation.