For the past several weeks, reports and allegations of sexual assault and harassment by celebrities and politicians have been in the news every day. Here are nine things you should know about these forms of sexual misconduct:

1. Sexual misconduct is an umbrella term for a range of behavior used to obtain sexual gratification against another’s will or at the expense of another. Sexual misconduct includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, and any conduct of a sexual nature that is without consent, or has the effect of threatening or intimidating the person against whom such conduct is directed. State laws vary on defining acts that constitute sexual misconduct.

2. The term “sexual harassment” began to be commonly used only in the 1970s and was first legally defined by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 1980. Sexual harassment is not itself a crime. A victim can sue for civil penalties, though, especially if the harassment occurred in the workplace. The EEOC defines sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and that includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when 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.

3. In 1986, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that sexual harassment violates federal laws against discrimination and that companies can be held liable for sexual harassment committed by supervisors even if the company was unaware of the harassment. Each year the EEOC receives about 12,000 complaints of sexual harassment.

4. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) defines sexual assault as any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.

5. In fiscal year 2016, the U.S. military received and processed 601 sexual harassment complaints, of which 365 were substantiated. Complainants were predominantly female (294 of 365; 81 percent) with males making up only 19 percent (68 of 365) of complainants. The military also received 6,172 reports of sexual assault involving service members as either victims or subjects. A Department of Defense survey also found that 4.3 percent of active-duty women and 0.6 percent of active-duty men indicated experiencing sexual assault in the year prior to being surveyed.

6. In 2012, the DOJ announced a newly revised definition of rape for nationwide data collection, ensuring that rape will be more accurately reported. The new definition includes any gender of victim and perpetrator, penetration by any body part or object, and recognizes that a victim can be incapacitated and thus unable to consent because of ingestion of drugs or alcohol.

7. A study conducted by the Justice Department found that about 20 million out of 112 million women (18 percent) in the United States have been raped during their lifetime. This includes an estimated 18 million women who have been forcibly raped, nearly 3 million women who have experienced drug-facilitated rape, and 3 million women who have experienced incapacitated rape.

8. Only about 16 percent of all rapes are reported to law enforcement. Victims of drug-facilitated or incapacitated rape were less likely to report to the authorities than victims of forcible rape were. Some of the reasons for not reporting rape to law enforcement included: not wanting others to know about the rape, fear of retaliation, perception of insufficient evidence, uncertainty about how to report, and uncertainty about whether a crime was committed or whether harm was intended. Injury was reported for 52 percent of forcible-rape incidents and 30 percent of drug-facilitated or incapacitated rape incidents were assessed. Medical care was received following 19 percent of forcible-rape incidents and 21 percent of drug-facilitated or incapacitated rape incidents. In a high percentage of forcible rape, drug-facilitated and incapacitated rape incidents, the perpetrators were known to the victim.

9. A 2014 survey taken on 27 institutes of higher learning found that 11.7 percent of students reported experiencing nonconsensual penetration or sexual touching by force or incapacitation since enrolling at the school. Females and students identifying as LGBTQ have significantly higher rates of this type of victimization than males. Undergraduates also have much higher rates than graduate or professional students. One of the more important risk factors for nonconsensual sexual contact is the use of alcohol and drugs. Among undergraduate females, about as many individuals reported penetration by incapacitation (5.4 percent) as by physical force (5.7 percent). For sexual touching, a larger percentage of the undergraduate females reported being physically forced when compared to being incapacitated (12.8 percent vs. 6.6 percent). There are small percentages that report that both force and incapacitation occurred (e.g., 1.7 percent of undergraduate females).

Note: If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, you can get help by calling the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673).

Other posts in this series:

Lutheranism • Jewish High Holy Days • Nation of Islam • Slave Trade • Solar Eclipses • Alcohol Abuse in America • History of the Homeschooling Movement • Eugenics • North Korea • Ramadan • Black Hebrew Israelites • Neil Gorsuch and Supreme Court Confirmations • International Women’s Day • Health Effects of Marijuana • J. R. R. Tolkien • Aleppo and the Syrian Crisis • Fidel Castro • C.S. Lewis • ESV Bible • Alzheimer’s Disease •  Mother Teresa • The Opioid Epidemic • The Olympic Games • Physician-Assisted Suicide • Nuclear Weapons • China’s Cultural Revolution • Jehovah’s Witnesses • Harriet Tubman • Autism • Seventh-day Adventism • Justice Antonin Scalia (1936–2016) • Female Genital Mutilation • Orphans • Pastors • Global Persecution of Christians (2015 Edition) • Global Hunger • National Hispanic Heritage Month • Pope Francis • Refugees in America • Confederate Flag Controversy • Elisabeth Elliot • Animal Fighting • Mental Health • Prayer in the Bible • Same-sex Marriage • Genocide • Church Architecture • Auschwitz and Nazi Extermination Camps • Boko Haram • Adoption • Military Chaplains • Atheism • Intimate Partner Violence • Rabbinic Judaism • Hamas • Male Body Image Issues • Mormonism • Islam • Independence Day and the Declaration of Independence • Anglicanism • Transgenderism • Southern Baptist Convention • Surrogacy • John Calvin • The Rwandan Genocide • The Chronicles of Narnia • The Story of Noah • Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church • Pimps and Sex Traffickers • Marriage in America • Black History Month • The Holocaust • Roe v. Wade • Poverty in America • Christmas • The Hobbit • Council of Trent • Halloween and Reformation Day • Casinos and Gambling • Prison Rape • 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing • Chemical Weapons • March on Washington • Duck Dynasty • Child Brides • Human Trafficking • Scopes Monkey Trial • Social Media • Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Cases • The Bible • Human Cloning • Pornography and the Brain • Planned Parenthood • Boston Marathon Bombing • Female Body Image Issues • Islamic State