You should be able to feel comfortable in your place of work or learning. If you are being sexually harassed, you can report it to the authorities at your job or school.
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature in the workplace or learning environment. Sexual harassment does not always have to be specifically about sexual behavior or directed at a specific person. For example, negative comments about women as a group may be a form of sexual harassment.
Although sexual harassment laws do not usually cover teasing or offhand comments, these behaviors can also be upsetting and have a negative emotional effect.
What does sexual harassment look like?
Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances. The harasser can identify with any gender and have any relationship to the victim, including being a direct manager, indirect supervisor, coworker, teacher, peer, or colleague.
Some forms of sexual harassment include:
- Making conditions of employment or advancement dependent on sexual favors, either explicitly or implicitly.
- Physical acts of sexual assault.
- Requests for sexual favors.
- Verbal harassment of a sexual nature, including jokes referring to sexual acts or sexual orientation.
- Unwanted touching or physical contact.
- Unwelcome sexual advances.
- Discussing sexual relations/stories/fantasies at work, school, or in other inappropriate places.
- Feeling pressured to engage with someone sexually.
- Exposing oneself or performing sexual acts on oneself.
- Unwanted sexually explicit photos, emails, or text messages.
What is the difference between sexual harassment and sexual assault? What about sexual misconduct?
Sexual harassment is a broad term, including many types of unwelcome verbal and physical sexual attention. Sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior, often physical, that occurs without the consent of the victim. Sexual harassment generally violates civil laws—you have a right to work or learn without being harassed—but in many cases is not a criminal act, while sexual assault usually refers to acts that are criminal. Some forms of sexual assault include:
- Penetration of the victim’s body, also known as rape.
- Attempted rape.
- Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetration of the perpetrator’s body.
- Fondling or unwanted sexual touching.
Sexual misconduct is a non-legal term used informally to describe a broad range of behaviors, which may or may not involve harassment. For example, some companies prohibit sexual relationships between coworkers, or between an employee and their boss, even if the relationship is consensual.
Where can sexual harassment occur?
exual harassment can occur in the workplace or learning environment, like a school or university. It can happen in many different scenarios, including after-hours conversations, exchanges in the hallways, and non-office settings of employees or peers.