Awkward or assault? A simple guide

Maybe it’s a first date. You’re thinking that this is a nice person, but you just aren’t feeling it. They reach over and take your hand. Caught off guard, you give a wan smile, then find a reason to excuse yourself for a moment. When you return you make sure to keep out of range and end the date as soon as possible. Awkward.

Or maybe it’s the end of the evening and as you are departing he (or she) leans in for a kiss before you can gracefully get out of the way. You cut it off as quickly as possible and leave. It was awkward, but no harm done.

Now imagine you are at a party. You know some of the people, but not all of them. Introductions are made, cordial banter ensues. You excuse yourself to go the bathroom. When you come out, one of the men (or women) you just met is standing in the hall, blocking your way. Before you even fully register their presence they have pushed you against a wall and begun groping your crotch with one hand while roughly trying to shove their tongue in your mouth. This is an assault.

Awkward is understandable and forgivable. You stop as soon as you realize the feeling isn’t mutual.

Assault is a form of violence against another person, even if it leaves no visible marks. Other human beings are not objects that you can use against their will for your sexual gratification. The fact that you stopped before committing a full-blown rape does not make it okay. It is never okay.