What Is Sexual Harassment? A Glossary of the #MeToo Movement
“Sexual assault is a criminal term, and the definition of what exactly constitutes sexual assault will vary somewhat from state to state, because states are the ones that in general are defining those criminal offenses,” says Emily Martin, Vice President for Education & Workplace Justice at the National Women’s Law Center. “But in general, sexual assault will involve some form of sexual contact that an individual has not consented to.” But does sexual assault always mean rape? “Different states will use different terms in defining criminal acts, and so to some extent it’s a question of state law,” says Martin, adding that, in some states, rape is referred to as “sexual assault in the first degree.” But, while rape typically refers to forced penetration, sexual assault is a broader category that can include other forms of sexual contact without the victim’s consent, that are not necessarily penetrative.