The Difference Between Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct

Sexual assault can create a longstanding and traumatic effect on its victims. In 2016, Ontario passed the Sexual Violence and Harassment Plan Act to call attention to these incidents and make communities safer. This month of May is the province’s Sexual Assault Prevention Month; with the recent rise of sexual assault cases, it is more important than ever to raise awareness about the harmful impacts of sex-related misconduct in schools, workplaces, and any other type of setting.

Understanding Sexual Misconduct and Assault

Sexual misconduct is an umbrella term, and it’s hard to pinpoint its exact definition. It is not recognized as an illegal offense, like sexual harassment, and these instances are not always explicitly sexual in nature. Situations that fall under this category include:

  • A student pressuring another to go out to the college football game together.
  • A co-worker insisting on having another employee touch his face and hair, despite the employee feeling uncomfortable.

Some may see these actions as harmless, but when someone feels pressured to give their consent, this crosses into the territory of sexual misconduct. Any unwelcome advances, solicitations, or contact that is not explicitly sexual, such as touching or groping, can all be classified as sexual misconduct. Depending on the nature of these advances, it could fall under sexual harassment as well.

Sexual assault is a different, often more serious matter. This term refers to an individual attempting to force another into sexual intercourse, whether by physical force or psychological pressure. Any attempt of forceful intercourse falls into this category as well, even if unsuccessful. Sexual assault can also refer to the forced contact of body parts, like the breast, groin, or buttocks. Sexual assault is considered a criminal offense in every state, and can be perpetrated by a person of either gender.

What to Do About a Sexual Crime

It’s important to know the differences between these two charges, especially if you’re charged with sexual misconduct or assault. If you find yourself in this situation, contact Gambriani Law right away.

If you want to know how to spread awareness of sexual assault and prevent it, take a look at our Top 5 Ways to Get Involved in Sexual Assault Prevention Month.

Find out more about the Sexual Assault and Harassment Plan Act by clicking here.

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women holding hands for sexual assault prevention month