The Facts Of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and/or other verbal, non-verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature. The types of sexual harassment include:
Grabbing, pinching, brushing up or rubbing against, crowding, following
Whistles, catcalls, sexual comments, sexual rumors
Facial gestures, hand gestures, writing on walls
Sexual harassment becomes illegal when submission is made either explicitly or implicitly a term of condition for employment, rejection is used as a basis for employment decisions, or the conduct has the purpose of unreasonably interfering with work performance and creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.
While some argue that sexual harassment is no more than flirting, there are clear differences between the two. Flirting is typically enjoyed by both parties and is complimentary in nature. Flirting can cross the line into sexual harassment when one person controls the interaction, the receiver does not welcome the remarks, it is not mutual, and there is no desire to continue the interaction.
What To Do If Sexual Harassment Happens To You
If you feel safe doing so, communicate to your harasser what you are feeling and that you expect the behavior to stop. You may do this verbally or in writing. If you choose, you may get help and support from a friend, parent, professional, or other trusted adult.
If the behavior is repeated, go to a person in authority — such as a principal, counselor, complaint manager, or supervisor. Document exactly what happened. Then, give a copy of your written record to the authority and keep one for yourself. Whenever possible and appropriate, use exact quotes.
Your documentation should include the following information:
- What happened
- When it happened
- Where it happened
- Who did the harassing
- Who the witnesses were (if any)
- What you said and/or did in response to the harassment
- How your harasser responded to you
- How you felt about the harassment
If the behavior is repeated again, go to a person in higher authority — such as a school board member, the superintendent of schools, the president of the college, the company president, etc. Keep documenting the behavior.
At any point in the process, you may choose to contact the Office of Civil Rights, your State Department of Education, your State Department of Human Rights, an attorney, or a police officer.