When it comes to sex offenses, you may hear several different terms: sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and sexual assault are the top three.
Vox discusses the differences between harassment, misconduct and assault.
What is sexual harassment?
The law prohibits sexual harassment in a professional setting. According to the U.S. Civil Rights Act, sexual harassment is a form of discrimination based on gender. One form of harassment is when the employer or supervisor holds the job above the employee’s head if he or she does not submit to the harassment. The employee may also receive benefits for putting up with harassment. In another type of harassment, it can include flirting or other advances that make the work environment feel hostile.
What is sexual misconduct?
Sexual misconduct refers to a person’s behavior, rather than to a specific crime. This is a broad category that could cover a person attempting to pressure a coworker or subordinate into sex. In some instances, someone may refer to sexual misconduct and be referring to sexual assault or harassment. This is simply unwanted sexual advances or behavior.
What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault is always a crime. It can refer to rape, but also unwanted touching, such as groping. Under U.S. law, a crucial element of sexual assault is that it is physical. One person must touch the other, as opposed to making comments. It is not a sexual assault to expose oneself to another person, however. Under Texas law, this is indecent exposure. However, if one person forces another person to expose himself or herself, this is sexual assault.