Attitudes and beliefs inform action.
When oppressive attitudes and beliefs are justified and normalized, people may choose to verbally and/or physically express themselves through violence in the form of sexual harassment, abuse, or assault.
Sexual violence is not about sex, it is about a desire to exert power over another person through force or sexual coercion.
Those who hold oppressive attitudes and beliefs may choose to verbally express their feelings of entitlement and superiority. This may look like telling sexist jokes, making stereotypical, degrading, or demeaning comments, and even sexually harassing others. That being said, it is important to acknowledge that this does not mean everyone who makes a sexist joke or believes an outdated stereotype will go on to commit sexual violence.
While most people will never progress past this point, others may escalate to physical expression and choose to commit acts of sexual abuse or assault.
Those who use abusive behaviours are fully responsible for their actions. Those who are harmed by sexual violence are never to blame. Unfortunately, sexual violence has been so normalized and minimized in our society that those who use abusive behaviors may not even recognize their actions as abusive and therefore, may not feel responsible for the harm they have caused.
The pyramid is also upheld by the attitudes, beliefs, and actions of many, including the countless people who would never commit an act of sexual violence. In this way, we all in conscious and unconscious ways, contribute to the creation of social environments where abusive behaviors are normalized, excusable, and tacitly condoned.