Hollywood has been rocked in recent months by allegations against a string of A Listers of sexual misconduct.
The frenzy has reached Australian shores with allegations surfacing this week my multiple women against Australian TV icon Don Burke for similar behaviour.
What do the many different terms used in the media to describe sexual misconduct actually mean?
Typically, “sexual assault” is used in two fashions. The first is an umbrella term used to describe all offences of a sexual nature ranging from sexual intercourse without consent through to unwanted touching and groping or unwanted sexual advances.
Sexual assault is also used to describe actual rape, which refers to forced penetration of any part of the body of another person without consent.
“Indecent Assault” typically refers to touching without penetration, for example, kissing, touching, groping or fondling usually of another person’s genitals.
An “Act of Indecency” typically refers to a person performing an act of a sexual nature with or towards another person or making them engage in such contact against their will, for example masturbating in front of another person.
“Sexual Harassment” refers to things like unwanted sexual advances, unwanted sexual comments or other sexual misconduct that typically does not involve any touching or physical attributes.
“Child Sexual Abuse” describes a range of sexual misconduct in relation to children or young people under the age of 16. This ranges from actual physical sexual conduct through to things like forcing a child or young person to view pornographic material.
There are dozens of different offences designed to punish different levels of unwanted sexual behaviour.
Many of these offences are treated as the most serious in our legal system so far as punishment is concerned, the worst of which attract similar penalties to offences of serious violence like manslaughter and murder.
That these offences have been so prevalent in the media over so long a period time exemplifies the notion that so many of these offences go unreported due to the embarrassment and trauma experienced by victims.