In light of the recent media attention that sexual assault scandals have received, there has been a distinct shift in momentum regarding these types of cases.

For one, the number of sexual assaults is rising across major industries. The Pentagon’s annual report, for instance, details a 10-percent increase in sexual misconduct reports over the last fiscal year. According to a Time article, this is the seventh year in a row that the number of reports has risen. Keep in mind that this data doesn’t necessarily mean that there are more sexual assaults; instead, it might just detail that more victims are feeling motivated to come forward.

There are numerous explanations for the trend, but that’s important to keep in mind is that sexual assault is front-and-center in the news and in courtrooms across the United States.

Are you protected in the event that someone accuses you of sexual assault? Do you have the proper protocols in place for your business?

Consider these strategies to help protect yourself against claims of sexual assault.

If you have been accused of sexual assault, be sure to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as you can.

Have a Comprehensive Policy in Place

If you have any leadership position in a business, your own company, a public institution, etc., the best thing you can do to prevent sexual assault — and not just accusations thereof — involves having a comprehensive, clearly communicated sexual assault policy in place.

When you have new hires, include a sexual harassment module as a part of their training. Make sure it clearly states your policy, to whom the person can speak if they suspect sexual harassment, and other legally mandated information about sexual assault. Be sure to have each participant sign after they’ve completed the module and keep this proof on record.

The best way to mitigate sexual harassment in the workplace is to take these steps annually, both for new and existing employees.

If you or someone you work with has been accused of sexual assault in New York, seek legal help from Lisa Pelosi, a criminal defense attorney.

Always Ask for Consent

Even for minor actions like hugs, you want to be sure that you ask for consent. While your intentions might be totally innocent, individuals can perceive physical touch and words of affirmation in different ways. You want to get explicit, verbal consent even if you consider yourself to have a great relationship with the other person.

You can really never be too safe when it comes to taking these precautions in the workplace or in any other collaborative setting. Keep personal space in mind, too, when it comes to physical boundaries in the workplace.

Be Aware of Appropriate Humor

Sexual assault and harassment aren’t just physical. Indeed, many cases of sexual assault involve verbal harassment. Avoid any comment about anyone’s age, gender, sexual orientation, physical appearance, or any other aspect related to identity. There’s no real benefit to these comments, but there is certainly a risk.

Again, it’s not about your intention when you deliver the joke or make the comment; it’s about how others perceive it.

Know What to do If You’ve Been Accused

In the case that you have been accused of sexual assault, you want to be proactive so that you do not make matters any worse. You might be tempted to speak with the accuser, but this is one of the worst ideas. Having a criminal defense attorney on your side ensures that you know of these faux-pas and that you put your best foot forward from the moment of accusation.

Be sure you seek the help of a qualified, experienced criminal defense attorney before you do anything else.

After that, make sure you document as much as you possibly can. Compile a list of possible witnesses or anything else that might assist your defense.

The Law Office of Lisa Pelosi

Lisa Pelosi has more than 30 years of experience as a criminal defense attorney in New York. She has defended many clients against sexual assault accusations.

If you or someone you know has been accused of sexual assault, call The Law Office of Lisa Pelosi today to get your legal situation on track.