Sexual harassment is any unwelcome, unwanted pressure, verbal, visual, or physical contact of a sexual nature.
It is a power play and may include:
- putting a hand on someone’s shoulder
- repeatedly propositioning someone when they have said no
- questioning or commenting about a person’s sexuality
- spreading sexual rumours
- telling sexually offensive jokes
- displaying pictures or magazines that are sexually explicit
- making comments about someone’s clothing or body
- making suggestive gestures
- standing or rubbing against a person
- pressuring someone for a date
The person being harassed may experience:
- inability to trust people
- a hard time concentrating
- difficulty attending school, university or work
- social problems
- use of drugs and alcohol
- withdrawal from others
- change in dress or behaviour
The harasser may experience:
- disciplinary action, including detention, suspension, or expulsion from school, or dismissal from employment.
- legal consequences, including criminal charges
- isolation from friends
The entire school may experience:
- an atmosphere of secrecy, rumours, and fear
- problems protecting students from harassment and retaliation
- students taking sides “for” and “against”
- a drop in students’ performances
If it’s so bad, why doesn’t the person being harassed talk about it or the person doing the harassing just stop?
The person being harassed may:
- fear retaliation
- feel like it’s their fault
- feel like nothing can be done to stop the harassment
- hope the harassment will go away by ignoring it
- think if they change their behaviour the harassment will stop by itself
The harasser may:
- really like the person
- think the person likes the attention
- just be following the crowd and not thinking about what they are doing
- not see anything wrong with their behaviour
- know their actions are unwanted but not care about the other person’s feelings
Help is Available
If you or someone you know has been sexually harassed, or if you would like more information, talk to your school administrators, or a manager who is safe, or an employer you can trust. Or contact the local domestic violence/sexual assault program nearest you.
Dating violence, like domestic violence, is a pattern of controlling, and abusive behaviours of one person over another within a romantic relationship. It can include verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, and financial abuse. It can occur in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. It knows no boundaries and crosses all lines of race, socio-economic status, etc. It CAN happen to ANYONE.
If you are a teen or young adult who has experienced dating or sexual abuse, and you want to seek advice or counseling about it, Lifeline offers a telephone counseling service on 1800 737 732 where you can talk to someone who can advise you what can be done about the situation. You may need help from the police and other such officers. Please do not hesitate to call if you feel you need help.