Though we may not all be faced with some of the more drastic issues like those recently portrayed in the media on a daily basis, some of us have encountered at least one form of sexual harassment or abuse in our lives (even those that may appear to be harmless). It’s important to recognize the different types and reach out for help anytime we feel uncomfortable. Here are some things that may constitute as sexually abusive behavior (from harassment to violence).
This isn’t just an innocent and playful remark in the name of ‘flattery,’ it’s verbal (sexual) harassment. Some may make light of the matter by excusing this behavior as compliments or flirtation, but there is a clear difference at the point where a person feels victimized, unsafe or intimidated. In France, proposals are under way to fine offenders of aggressive catcalling.
Requests for sexual favors
In response to the scandal surrounding Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein, many women have come forward about career advancement in exchange for sexual acts. Other bribery involves solicitation for the promise of pay or a promotion from a superior in the workplace. What may appear to be a black and white situation from an outsider’s point of view can actually be a case where a victim may be in extreme jeopardy.
Rape or attempted rape
Consent is an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity. It assumes free will and can be in the form of actions or words and capacity/ability to consent. If the act is non-consensual for either party, it may be considered a legal crime.
Sexual assault doesn’t single out intercourse nor physical force. Groping, fondling and stalking are all grounds for sexual assault or harassment. Perpetrators may also use emotional coercion, psychological force, manipulation or threats to coerce a victim into non-consensual sexual acts.
If you or someone you know is in danger, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) for support.