Attorney at Law

7 Sexual Harassment Facts

Daisy Rogozinsky
January 15, 2023
Last reviewed by
Boruch Burnham, Esq.
June 5, 2023

Sexual harassment and assault are serious matters that affect the health and well-being of people of all genders and ages worldwide. In this article, we review some important facts about sexual harassment, rape, and assault, including their legal definitions, how common they are, and the impact they have on victims. 

1. Sexual harassment

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment is a form of discrimination and includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Two forms of sexual harassment it is important to be aware of include: 

  • Quid pro quo harassment: This is when an individual in a position of power or authority requests sexual favors or makes unwelcome advances as a condition for employment benefits, promotions, or other favorable treatment
  • Hostile work environment sexual harassment: This occurs when unwanted sexual advances, comments, or behaviors create an intimidating, offensive, or hostile atmosphere in the workplace. Such behavior, whether explicit or implicit, can interfere with an individual's work and well-being.

In sexual harassment, both the victim and the harasser can be of any gender, and the victim does not have to be of the opposite sex. The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, a co-worker, an employee in another office, a client, or a customer. 

It should be noted that while Title VII only applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments, and certain other agencies and organizations, each state has its own laws under which sexual harassment is prohibited and sanctioned. 

2. Rape and sexual assault

Sexual harassment and sexual assault are both forms of sexual misconduct, but they are distinct offenses. Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual assault is defined as any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the consent of the victim. 

It should be noted that whereas sexual harassment may be either a civil infraction or criminal act based on the level of severity of the misconduct, rape and other forms of sexual assault are always crimes. Rape and sexual assault are defined and criminalized under a variety of federal acts, including the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Military Rape Prevention and Response Act (MRAP), the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), and definitions include: 

Rape is committing a sexual act upon another person by doing any of the following:

  • Using unlawful force
  • Using force causing or likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm 
  • Threatening death, harm, or kidnapping
  • First rendering the victim unconscious
  • Administering by force or threat of force, or without the knowledge or consent of that person, a drug or intoxicant that impairs their ability to appraise or control conduct

Sexual assault is defined as committing a sexual act upon another person by doing any of the following:

  • Threatening the victim
  • Making the victim believe that the sexual act serves a professional purpose
  • Pretending to be another person 

Sexual acts under any of the following conditions are also considered sexual assault:

  • Without the victim’s consent
  • When the victim is asleep or unconscious
  • When the victim cannot consent because they are under the influence
  • When the victim cannot consent because of a disability or mental impairment 

3. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) an American is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds. 

In the United States, sexual assault is a common crime taking place nearly every minute. 

4. Over half of women and almost 1 in 3 men have experienced sexual violence involving physical contact during their lifetimes 

Additionally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 4 women and about 1 in 26 men have experienced completed or attempted rape. About 1 in 9 men were made to penetrate someone during his lifetime. And 1 in 3 women and about 1 in 9 men experienced sexual harassment in a public place.

5. Minors are common victims of sexual violence

Almost half of female rape survivors were first raped before age 18. About 4 in 10 male rape survivors were first made to penetrate as a minor. 

6. More than 2 out of 3 sexual assaults go unreported

The majority of sexual assault cases are never reported to law enforcement. 

Survivors who do report sexual assaults list the following reasons for doing so:

  • To protect the household or victim from further crimes by the offender
  • To stop the incident or prevent recurrence or escalation
  • To improve police surveillance
  • A belief that they had a duty to do so
  • To catch, punish, or prevent the offender from reoffending
  • To get help or recover the loss

Survivors list the following reasons for not reporting a sexual assault:

  • Fear of retaliation
  • A belief that the police would not or could not do anything to help
  • A belief that it was a personal matter
  • A belief that it was not important enough to report
  • Not wanting to get the perpetrator in trouble

7. Sexual violence is costly to victims both financially and emotionally

 According to some studies, the lifetime cost of rape is $122,461 per survivor, including medical costs, lost productivity, criminal justice activities, and other costs. Additionally, 81% of women and 35% of men report significant short-term or long-term impacts such as post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Legal recourse for survivors

If you are a survivor of sexual assault, harassment, or rape, it is likely that you have paid a terrible cost as a result of the crime you experienced. To this end, it is important that you understand that in addition to seeking justice through the criminal justice system, you may also pursue civil claims in order to pursue compensation and justice. You may be able to recover a variety of damages, including for:

  • Depression
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Psychological harm or trauma
  • Travel and relocation costs
  • Healthcare costs, including emergency care, a sexual assault forensic exam, and medications
  • Mental health care, such as therapy and counseling costs
  • Lost wages 
  • Property damage
  • Decreased quality or enjoyment of life
  • Emotional distress
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Legal fees 
  • Stress, fear, or anxiety

If you believe you may have been the victim of sexual harassment or assault, it is highly recommended that you consult with a skilled attorney with extensive experience in pursuing sexual assault claims to review your options in getting the justice and compensation you deserve.

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