The Big Picture
Awareness of sexual assault and misconduct is at an all-time high, but confusion on the issue remains. You might even say divisiveness on the subject has increased.
I believe the problem now is not a lack of awareness; it’s a lack of understanding. People are aware sexual assault and misconduct happen, but awareness does not mean understanding the complexity of these issues in important ways.
But how is it possible that a good person could commit sexual misconduct? I want to help demystify the confusing issue of sexual misconduct by answering this important question.
I recognize the problems with referring to a person responsible for sexual misconduct as “good,” but until people understand how an otherwise decent person could rationalize sexually violating behavior, confusion will remain, and proactive efforts will be under-valued, simplistic, or misguided.
Understanding sexual misconduct starts with understanding two critical concepts:
Critical Concept 1: It does not take violence for a person to be violated.
A person does not need to commit extreme violence or even an act of force to cause harm. There are many ways people can cause serious harm by violating the basic boundaries of others.
Critical Concept 2: Most sexual misconduct is committed by a “regular” person.
We naturally try to keep predators and pathological people out of our businesses and communities, but that is only one type of person who could violate another person sexually. Most disturbing experiences and trauma are caused by a “regular” person who rationalizes or justifies their actions.
What does this mean for you?
It means the risk of harmful behavior is not about whether a deviant, violent predator is in your midst. The real risk is based on psychological factors that are human tendencies in otherwise decent people.
Key Understanding: *Most of this thinking happens instantaneously and unconsciously.