Sexual assault often goes hand-in-hand with racism and discrimination. Members of marginalized communities statistically experience sexual assault and harassment more often than others. A 2018 analysis of sexual harassment charges by the National Women’s Law Center showed that black women filed charges nearly three times more often than Caucasian women between 2012 and 2016.
As a woman of color who has suffered sexual assault in the workplace or elsewhere, you have rights. Contact an attorney from Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC right away. We care about sexual assault survivors in Chicago and want to hear your story. Our firm can go up against the perpetrator on your behalf. Request a 100% confidential consultation today at (888) 424-5757.
Victimization of Women of Color: The Facts
Sexual violence disproportionately impacts women of color, as well as women of other marginalized groups: LGBTQ people, immigrants, and the disabled. Studies have shown that over 18% of African American women will experience sexual assault over their lifetimes, on average. The true percentage is likely much higher due to widespread underreporting.
A tragic trend exists in which lawmakers, the media, and others continually ignore or dismiss claims of sexual violence against women of color – pushing the issue under the rug rather than discussing it out in the open. Ignoring the problem reinforces the idea that women of color should not come forward with their experiences, since people will not listen.
Defining Sexual Assault
Learning the definitions of sexual assault and harassment can help you recognize if someone has violated your rights. While sexual remarks at work may be bothersome, they will not fulfill the definition of a crime until they make your workplace a hostile or offensive environment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) prohibits any discrimination or harassment on the basis of a protected class – including sex, gender, ethnicity, and nationality. Examples of sexual harassment can include:
- Unwelcome sexual advances
- Unwanted touching, hugging, or kissing
- Requests for sexual favors
- Sexual jokes, comments, innuendos
- Posting sexual photos around the office
- Remarks about someone’s sexual preference or activity
Sexual harassment can refer to physical and non-physical conduct. Sexual assault, on the other hand, refers to sexual penetration in the state of Illinois. The state’s legal definition of criminal sexual assault is sexual penetration due to force or the threat of force. Committing an act of sexual penetration when the victim is unable to give knowing consent is also criminal sexual assault.
What to do as the Victim of Sexual Assault in Illinois
If you believe someone has committed sexual assault or harassment against you, get help from the authorities. Report the incident to the police as soon as it happens. Follow their instructions for seeing a medical examiner, describing the perpetrator, and filing criminal charges. Even if law enforcement fails to help you, calling 911 can create an official record of events that can strengthen your claim later.
If your incident happened at work, notify your employer. Go through the official complaint process with Human Resources. Then, report the incident to the EEOC. The EEOC will investigate your workplace and may take action against your employer. Next, you will have the option to file a civil lawsuit. Contact a sexual assault lawyer for assistance.
Call a lawyer for help with your sexual assault claim. Your attorney can listen to your story, identify the defendant(s) and file your civil claim for you. You can focus on your physical and emotional wellness while your lawyer handles the complicated aspects of your claim, such as negotiations with insurance companies. An attorney can also connect you with important resources.
Sexual Violence Resources for Women of Color
Women of color face unique challenges when reporting sexual assault. The following are resources available to specifically help victims of color:
- Women of Color Network. The Women of Color Network provides national advocacy for the safety of all women. It also offers technical assistance, leadership training, and political advocacy, with the goal of stopping violence against women.
- Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault. An organization that creates a safe space for women of color to join the anti-sexual assault movement. It offers technical assistance, training, education, and community resources help create a society in which women of color can live free from violence.
- SisterLove, Inc. SisterLove aims to prevent HIV/AIDS and other reproductive health challenges that impact women through education, advocacy, and support. Founded in 1989, SisterLove focuses on helping communities of women practice safe sex.
Seeking assistance after sexual violence or discrimination can be daunting. Many victims fear no one will believe them, or that authorities will downplay their traumatic experiences. Fears can keep women of color from reporting sexual assault.
Contact Us Today
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has compassion for your grave injustice. We will fight on your behalf to bring a sexual assailant to justice in Illinois. Speak with us about your case to discover your rights and legal opportunities. Our lawyers want to help you obtain the recovery you need to move forward. Speak to a sexual assault attorney today. Call (888) 424-5757 or contact us online.
- Out of the Shadows: An Analysis of Sexual Harassment Charges Filed by Working Wome/
- Out of the Shadows Report
- Sexual Violence in the Lives of African American Women
- Black Women & Sexual Violence
- Information maintained by the Legislative Reference Bureau
- Sexual Violence Resources for students who identify as Women of Color