What is sexual harassment anyway?
Sexual harassment is unwanted sexual pressure that one person inflicts upon another.
It can be boy-girl, girl-to-girl, boy-to-boy, or girl-to-boy. Sexual harassment is uninvited attention of a sexual nature.
In what ways can sexual harassment take place?
- Hostile environment – Someone says or does something that makes you uncomfortable. It doesn’t matter what the intention behind the words or action is; it is up to the individual to decide what feels uncomfortable to him/her.
- Quid Pro Quo (this for that) – Someone asks you to do something of a sexual nature for him/her in exchange for doing a favor for you. This always involves an imbalance of power. EX: employer to employee, teacher/coach to student, etc.
In what form can sexual harassment occur?
- Visual – Inappropriate pictures, unwanted love letters, flashing,
bathroom wall graffiti.
- Verbal – Inappropriate jokes, whistling, accusations, rumors about someone’s personal life, comments about someone’s body or appearance.
- Physical – Being grabbed, touched, blocked, or brushed up against,
having your bra snapped, or being pantsed.
Why does sexual harassment happen?
Power and/or status difference are almost always at the heart of sexual harassment. Harassers have a desire to control and humiliate or achieve and maintain dominance.
A belief that someone is inferior and that they should be kept in a submissive role is usually part of a harasser’s mentality.
What are the effects?
Sexual harassment can have physical and emotional effects such as: low self-esteem, depression, humiliation, falling grades, feeling physically ill, loss of ability to concentrate, responding with violence, and withdrawal.
What can you do if you are targeted?
- Don’t ignore it – Allowing an incident to occur without comment will seldom put a stop to future incidents and only encourages the harasser.
- Tell the harasser to stop – Confront the person. Say you find their behavior offensive and want it to stop immediately.
- Get support – If you feel uncomfortable confronting the harasser yourself, it’s okay to call on a friend, teacher, parent, or administrator to back you up.
- Keep a record – If you are targeted, document incidents of sexual harassment. Include the date, place, people involved, witnesses, and how it made you fee.
- Report it – If the harassment continues after you have told the harasser to stop, report the harassment to an adult in authority at your school. Don’t feel embarrassed or think that you won’t be believed. If school personnel do not hear any harassment complaints, they may be led to believe that the school climate is not troublesome to students. Sexual harassment in something that schools take seriously.
- Don’t be a bystander – If you see sexual harassment happening, don’t just stand by. Tell the harasser he/she is making someone uncomfortable and you want the behavior to stop. Another way to help is by telling the victim you are willing to support him/her in reporting the incident.
- Call the Zacharias Center!- We are here for you and want to help. Call our 24-hour Support Line number: 847-872-7799.