We keep hearing these words over and over: sexual assault, sexual misconduct, sexual harassment. The definitions are clear, but interpretations can get murky.
Sexual assault and sexual harassment fall under the umbrella of sexual misconduct; that covers sexual behavior.
The Department of Justice defines sexual assault as sexual behavior without consent of the recipient, like rape, attempted rape or molestation.
Sexual harassment is unwanted verbal or physical behavior, like lewd comments or groping. The key word there is unwanted.
"A person may tell a person to stop, that they don't care to be spoken to that way, however, it's really the responsibility of the person who is doing the unwanted talk or touch or behavior that should be responsible for their behavior," explains Catherine Johnson, Director of the Guilford County Family Justice Center.
Johnson says you can draw the line at any point if you feel uncomfortable and the decision should be respected. She adds, it's not something that's specific to any industry. It can happen to any field and to anyone.
"W with sexual assault there is no limitation on reporting so if someone had experienced sexual violence years ago and they want to come forward and support that, they can certainly do that," Johnson explains.
After a claim or allegation is made, it can be handled criminally or civilly, if a person wants to take those routes.
A person can also seek counseling or support. That's part of what the Family Justice Center can offer.
Over the past few months, since more allegations of sexual misconduct have been coming to the mainstream, Johnson says the Family Justice Center has seen more people coming forward asking what their options are if they have experienced some form of sexual trauma.
You can contact the Guilford County Family Justice Center at (336)-641-7233.
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