Recently, singer Tahliah Debrett Barnett aka FKA Twigs sued her ex-boyfriend, Shea LaBeouf, for inflicting her with physical and mental abuse over the one year of their dating period. In her lawsuit, she accused LaBeouf of sexual battery, sexual assault and relentless abuse.

 What is the difference between sexual battery, sexual assault and rape?

According to the laws in the United State of America, sexual assault, sexual battery and rape have three different definitions. About sexual assault, the US Department of Justice says, “Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behaviour that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling and attempted rape.”

Sexual Battery

Victims can charge their abusers with Sexual Battery according to this definition, “Any person who touches an intimate part of another person while that person is unlawfully restrained by the accused or an accomplice, and if the touching is against the will of the person touched and is for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, is guilty of sexual battery.” FKA Twigs in her lawsuit accused Shia Labeouf of tying her up, forcefully kissing her and she also told about an incident when she found him mounted on her when she woke up from sleep. Such incidents qualify for sexual assault and sexual battery charges.

Also read: What I Had To Say Mattered: How Can We Provide Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors Beyond Criminal Trials?

Rape

Rape, on the other hand, is only charged when there is penetration involved. The law says, “the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

These laws also have different levels of punishment. They also vary from one state law to another.

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