- What is Sexual Harassment
- How Does Sexual Harassment Hurt
- Examples of Sexual Harassment
- How to Protect Yourself
What is Sexual Harassment
Sexual Harassment is any unwelcome or unwanted behavior of a sexual nature, related to gender, dating and/or physical appearance. Laws related to sexual harassment make it illegal to engage in behavior that creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive educational or work environment. It is an illegal form of sex discrimination as defined by Title IX of the Educational Amendments of the 1972, Title VII Civil Rights Act (1964 as amended in 1972), the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, as well as numerous state and civil statutes.
A critical element of the laws related to sexual harassment is the perception and reaction of the recipient of such behavior that determines whether the actions are offensive. This standard reflects a change in the interpretation of the sexual harassment laws to empower individuals to speak out about offensive behavior. It also addresses the fact that most individuals accused of sexual harassment deny and/or minimize their behavior and its effects. Therefore, the interpretations of the laws emphasize that it is the effects of such behavior that is unacceptable, regardless of intent.
While this change may seem to unfairly penalize the individuals whose behavior is unintentionally offensive, it represents recognition that there is often an implicit, or implied, power balance in these situations. In most cases, the harassing behavior itself creates a situation whereby the recipient will be reluctant to take action.
How Does Sexual Harassment Hurt
People who are sexually harassed may be afraid to report and even resist the harassment. Some people feel threatened by the offender. The offender can also threaten job security or a grade to get what he/she wants.
The following are examples of how someone may feel if harassed:
- Angry, hurt, depressed or trapped
- Unable to concentrate
- Mistrustful of men or women
- Lowered self-esteem and confidence
- Increased stress that can cause insomnia, headaches, or digestive problems
All these feelings are normal, however, if you are being harassed you are not alone. Report this to your supervisor or someone you can trust. Employers are mandated to investigate and to stop the harassment. You deserve to work or attend a school without the fear of harassment.
Examples of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to, any of the following behaviors:
- Comments about your body, clothing or sexual activity
- Jokes, remarks or teasing
- Request(s) or demands for sexual favors
- Threats about your job or grade or something that someone in authority can provide
- Insulting sounds
- Leering or ogling at your body or body parts
- Obscene gestures
- Touching or pinching
- Repeated brushing up against your body, it can also happen only once
- Sexual intercourse or fondling
Any of the examples above are considered sexual harassment, however, these actions have to make you feel uncomfortable, if these actions aren’t considered uncomfortable, then it is not sexual harassment.
How to Protect Yourself
- Be clear about what sexual harassment is and know that you
don’t have to accept it
- Find out what sexual harassment policies and procedures are
in place at your school or workplace
- Tell someone immediately so that the offender knows that you
will not tolerate any type of harassment
If you are confused about what to do, we will help you through this difficult time.