Whether we’re talking about the #MeToo movement rocking Hollywood or the dozens of incidents that occur every day in the workplace, sexual harassment and sexual assault are very serious issues.

Estimates suggest that 18.3% of women and 1.4% of men will deal with sexual assault in their lives.

However, parsing the difference between sexual harassment and sexual assault can be difficult.

Wondering which is which? Keep reading and we’ll help you figure it out.

Difference Between Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) defines sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors” and physical or verbal harassment of a sexual nature.

This includes sexual jokes about a person’s appearance, gender, or orientation, promises of promotions or favors in exchange for sex, and undesired physical contact.

While sexual harassment is often verbal and emotional, sexual assault occurs when a person is acted upon.

Sexual assault can be anything from rape to groping and should be taken very seriously.

The good news is that you don’t have to put up with harassment or assault.

If an incident occurred in the workplace, you’ll need to file a complaint with human resources. However, that’s more of a formality than anything else. If an assault took place, file a police report as soon as you’re comfortable doing so.

You’ll want to find legal representation, especially in the case of a workplace incident as companies may counter-sue or attempt to muddy the waters in court.

Gather as much evidence of the incident as possible. If anyone was present at the time of the harassment or assault, consider asking them to serve as a witness.

The penalties for both crimes look different, too. Harassment may result in a person’s firing or a fine, while assault may result in jail time.

What About False Allegations?

While false sexual assault allegations are exceedingly rare, they do occur. If you’re the victim of false allegations, you must do everything in your power to clear your name.

For starters, document everything. Whether it’s text messages, phone logs, or social media updates, anything that could refute these claims is vital to your case and should be collected.

Next, speak with a legal representative. There are plenty of lawyers willing to hear you out, especially if you have evidence that the allegations against you are false.

Though it is possible to beat false allegations, it’s important to remember that the burden of proof is on those making the allegations. Any counter-evidence you have should be submitted to your legal team as soon as possible.

Stay Safe, Stay Educated

We sincerely hope you’ll never have to deal with anything as heavy as sexual harassment or sexual assault in your lifetime. But if you do, know that you have legal rights.

Knowing the difference between sexual harassment and sexual assault can help you better prepare your court case and find the justice and peace that you deserve.

For more tips on living a safe life, make sure to check back with our blog for more fantastic content.

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