It seems every time we turn around, we are hearing of men (mostly, but some women) assaulting and harassing women and men. It is complicated. And it isn't. Let's start by discussing the meaning of certain terms. Sexual abuse encompasses 1) Sexual Assault which involves the use of force (including threats, duress, fear etc. ) to touch penetrate the intimate parts of the body and lack of consent. Simply put, consent is a) "Yes," means yes, b) "No" means NO, c) Silence means NO, c) Under the Influence/asleep/passed out means NO. d) If you are unsure, take it as a NO. When a minor is involved and the other person is an adult, especially when the adult has power or authority over the minor, it is a big NO. A minor cannot give consent to an adult in almost all cases. (I know there are some exceptions but I will not address those here. Suffice to say, a minor who is close to being an adult and a very young adult who are close in age, may be a different story depending on state laws.) If the person is incapacitated due to age, illness or disability, it is again NO.
2) Sexual Contact mean intentional touching of the intimate parts of another, under or over clothing, without consent, for purposes of degrading or humiliation, or sexual gratification. It also includes forcing the other person to touch the actor's intimate parts without consent. It additionally includes when the offender touches themselves, on heir intimate parts, knowingly in the presence of another without their consent. Finally, sexual abuse also includes exposing the sexual parts of the body without consent. In other words, if someone wants to see your business, they will ask you for it. Otherwise, it is abuse and against the law.
Sexual Harassment has three general types. a) The Quid Pro Quo. A person, usually one that has power or authority over the victim, creates a situation of "You do [fill in sexual act] for me and I will not [hurt you, your career, your grade,]" OR I will do [hire, promote, give an A] for you." b) The Hostile Work Environment. This occurs when the work or school environment reflects ongoing sexual environment as evidenced by sexual conversation, sexual comments, sexual behavior, sexual pictures on display for all to see, revealing sexual body parts. Some legal requirements may include a requirement to state that the conversation/situation makes the victim uncomfortable. c) Finally, Sexual Harassment also includes the unwanted seduction. Work is probably not the best place to find a date these days. But, if you do have feelings for someone and that person is a subordinate, one should use extreme caution before proceeding, including notification to superiors and transfer of all power the supervisor has over the person to another, if permitted. In all cases, reciprocation of the feeling must be explicit and notice to superiors may be required. If the other person doesn't reciprocate, move on. Persistence may likely become sexual harassment.
It is important that both men and women fully understand what is being discussed in the media today. We need to know what is before we can do something about it. Ignorance is not bliss nor is it a defense.