Sexual harassment sadly is something we hear more and more about. It’s a serious problem that can blight your life. Find out what’s sexual harassment and what’s not, and how you might respond to it – read the top five facts.
1) What is harassment?
There are countless forms of sexual harassment. Generally, it’s a behaviour that’s insulting, hostile or degrading. It can be verbal or non-verbal, physical or emotional. But it also depends on what you feel – if you feel uncomfortable, scared or violated, it’s possible that you are being harassed.
2) There can be a thin line between flirting and harassment Sometimes, harassment is obvious, especially if it’s someone you don’t know, like a stranger rubbing up against you on a bus. But sometimes it can be hard to tell. Is that distant friend flirting with you, or is this harassment? You have to ask yourself what it feels like. Flirting feels good and is reciprocal. Harassment does not. Always remember: harassment is not your fault.
3) Who are the harassers?
Harassers usually enjoy being powerful and the ability to hurt their victims. They can be men or women, of any age or status. Anybody can be a harasser, but it’s often someone who has power over you. It can even be your spouse or partner.
4) Stand up for yourself and walk tall
It’s super-scary, but the best thing you can do if you are being harassed by a colleague or acquaintance is stand up to them. Try to do it when others are around. You shouldn’t worry too much about the harasser’s privacy – they didn’t care about yours. Try to stay calm, tell your harasser what he or she has done and then say that you won’t accept this kind of behaviour anymore. If you are too scared, try to get others involved, if possible have evidence ready and be prepared for the harasser’s denial.
The best way to fend off street harassment is to walk tall and claim your space in the street. The more you act like a victim, the more harassers will treat you like one.
5) The effects of harassment
Being harassed can have serious effects on you. It can make you avoid certain activities, make you change your routines, like choosing a different way to work, or even make you afraid to leave the house. It can make you feel small, sad and hurt. It can also have very serious effects on your body. You might be getting headaches, have difficulty sleeping or get depressed. These effects can last for quite some time.