Sexual Aggression and The Civil Response


This past year (2018) has seen a significant change in our collective awareness of harassment and sexual aggression, primarily in the workplace. On an almost daily basis, we are learning of yet another sexual aggressor and the swift and severe repercussions of this alleged sexual misconduct. Social media has been flooded with thousands of personal experiences of harassment and sexual abuse of one form or another, showing just how commonplace these incidents are in our society. There has been what has been described as a ‘‘seismic shift” in what behaviour is tolerated in the workforce. The response to these allegations has also shaped the way people view victims who come forward. One commentator has opined that for perhaps the first time in history, powerful aggressors are falling, ‘‘like dominos”, and victims are being believed. The #MeToo movement has been described as the fastest-moving social change seen in
decades and its founders and other ‘‘silence breakers” were named Time Magazine’s 2017 Person of the Year.

This movement has started an important discourse, and society is listening and acknowledging the harm caused to vulnerable persons by sexual aggression, whether in its physical form or on an online platform in the form of cyberbullying and the non-consensual dissemination of intimate images (‘‘revenge porn”). With this new wave of support, one can anticipate that more victims will have the courage to come forward and that our civil justice
system will adapt to this new, rapidly-changing legal landscape.

This paper provides an overview and update on civil claims for sexual misconduct and revenge porn.

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