Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Definition of Terms Relating to Sexual Victimization

Definition of Terms Relating to Sexual Victimization
(Incest, Child Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault, Clergy Sexual Abuse, Sexual Harassment)

Sexual Assault/Rape - often referred to as rape, is legally defined differently in each state. In New Jersey, the law defines sexual assault as "the penetration, no matter how slight, in which physical force or coercion is used or in which the victim is physically or mentally incapacitated." Penetration is defined as "vaginal intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio or anal intercourse between persons or the insertion of a hand, finger or other object into the anus or vagina by either the actor or upon the actor's instruction" (NJSA 2C:14-1). In most states the law, which is gender neutral, does not specify male or female, but uses the words "actor" and "victim" to describe the persons involved.

Childhood Sexual Abuse and Incest (From ISA) - A betrayal of trust in overt and covert sexual contact or act which possibly includes: touching or non-touching, verbal seduction or abuse, anal or vaginal intercourse, oral sex, sodomy, manual stimulation, direct threats, implied threats, or other forms of abuse between people who are related genetically, by marriage (step-parents to step children), by living arrangements, or in whom a child perceives a trusting relationship, i.e., mother, father, grandfather, grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins, stepparents, step-siblings, half-siblings, live-in or sleep-over lovers, brothers, sisters, foster parents, adoptive parents, neighbors, family friends, baby sitters, anyone either known or a stranger with a power advantage of any kind over the child, or professionals such as teacher, extracurricular activities instructor, coach, professor, school principal, nurse, doctor, orderly, dentist, technician, therapist, social worker, minister, priest, nun, shopkeeper, landlord, scout leader, laborer, janitor, office worker, pilot, U.S. military personnel, lawyer, judge, police officer, mail carrier, politician, banker, corporate executive, or anyone whose employment or social standing puts them in a position of power over a child.  This also includes any adult in a position of power who betrays the trust of a trusting adult.
When this trust between a child and an older child, sibling, parent-figure or adult is violated, that act becomes incestuous. We put full responsibility on the initiator for whatever took place.  The child's age may range from conception, newborn, preschool, school age, teenager and older.  

Criminal sexual contact - is legally defined as "intentional, non-consensual touching by the victim or actor, either directly or through clothing, of a victim's or actor's sexual organs, genital area, anal area, inner thigh, groin buttock or breast, for the purpose of degrading or humiliating the victim or sexually arousing or sexually gratifying the actor."

Sexual Harrassment - Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following:
  • The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.
  • The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
  • The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
  • Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.
  •  The harasser's conduct must be unwelcome.
It is helpful for the victim to directly inform the harasser that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. The victim should use any employer complaint mechanism or grievance system available.

When investigating allegations of sexual harassment, EEOC looks at the whole record: the circumstances, such as the nature of the sexual advances, and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred. A determination on the allegations is made from the facts on a case-by-case basis.

Prevention is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace. Employers are encouraged to take steps necessary to prevent sexual harassment from occurring. They should clearly communicate to employees that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. They can do so by establishing an effective complaint or grievance process and taking immediate and appropriate action when an employee complains.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Sexual Harssment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Peer sexual harassment - occurs in a variety of forms that may include sexual assault or criminal sexual contact.Other forms of this type of harassment include sexual comments, noises or gestures that threaten, scare, or make the victim uncomfortable.The behavior of the perpetrator would determine what crime was committed.

Date Rape and Relationship Violence
Maritial Rape - Legal definition varies within the United States, marital rape can be defined as any unwanted intercourse or penetration (vaginal, anal, or oral) obtained by force, threat of force, or when the wife is unable to consent. Rape in marriage is an extremely prevalent form of sexual violence, particularly when women who are involved in physically abusive relationships may be especially vulnerable to rape by their partners.

Domestic Violence - This is NOT the exactly the focus of The Awareness Center. Domestic Violence usually refers to spousal abuse. In some cases there is marital rape and incest (which isa part of the focus of The Awareness Center).

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