By Gianluca Russo
The truth has begun to shine on the hidden harassment within the Hollywood community. Starting with Harvey Weinstein, over 50 have been alleged to have sexually assaulted, harassed or raped people they’ve come in contact with over the years. It’s evident that, for these men, money is power, and they use their power to silence those they mistreat.
In a time when these allegations are being revealed each day, it can be nerve wracking to go on dates with people who you don’t personally know. Whether set up through a dating app or a mutual friend, it’s important to know what constitutes good behavior and misconduct on a date. Even more so, it’s vital to know what is defined as sexual harassment and sexual assault, as well as where to go if you’ve been treated in any such manner.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network’s official website, sexual assault is defined as “sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim.” More specifically, behaviors that fall under sexual assault include, but are not limited to, attempted rape, unwanted sexual touching and forced sexual acts.
It’s important to know the definition of the word “force.” While force may be through a physical action, it often does not. One may force another to engage in sexual acts through emotional coercion, psychological force or manipulation. Thus, force is not only a physical act: It is often a verbal one. Because of this, the old saying that “no means no” is outdated as sometimes, it may be impossible for a victim to verbally say the word “no” in a compromising or dangerous situation. With this in mind, it is better to to use the phrase “yes means yes,” meaning that consent is only given when there is a clear “yes” given.
Sexual harassment, on the other hand, has a broader definition than sexual assault. It is defined as any unwanted or unwelcome sexual advances, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature or asking for any sexual favors. Sexual harassment can occur in any situation or location, whether it be at work, at school or on a date.
There are many precautionary steps to take before going on a date to ensure your safety and preparedness. For starters, trust your gut feeling. If the situation, location, person you’re with or any other factor of the date has you feeling uncomfortable or unsettled, remove yourself from that situation. If it seems sketchy, it probably is. On that note, be prepared no matter what, even if the date is at a local spot where you’ve been many times. Being overly prepared is not a bad thing; It can help drastically in situations you never thought would occur. Thirdly, let a friend, family member or someone close to you know where you are going to be and have a safety net, meaning let me them to come bail you out if you send a certain text or signal. Code words may be your key to getting out of a unsafe situation. And don’t forget that no matter what happens on the date, you can withdraw consent at any time. If you start to feel uncomfortable, you have every reason and right to leave.
It seems crazy that we must so prepared and skeptical when going on dates, but alas, this is the world we live in. Being prepared for any situation will make you feel safe and secure on a date and can help prevent any wrongdoing before it even occurs.