Don’t play the victim when it comes to your workplace. No matter who the perpetrator is, you can stop sexual harassment and start enjoying your work days again.
Did you know that as many as 1 in 3 women have experienced sexual harassment in a professional environment? This experience isn’t limited to women either, as men aren’t immune to such behavior.
Many cases, however, have gone unreported for fear of retaliation from the offending person or from the company itself. Many people also don’t know if they have a case.
Another reason is that not all victims know what steps to take if they get involved in such an incident. If you’re experiencing the same thing, take these steps to stop sexual harassment now.
Forms of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Your first defense is knowing the law; even if you don’t want to file a case, it’s better knowing the law is on your side. It’s pretty extensive, but you need to learn at least the basics.
There are two kinds of harassment to cover, generalized as: hostile work environment and quid pro quo.
Anyone can create a hostile work environment for the victim. Anyone can make the victim unsafe by making sexual innuendos, unwelcome advances, and creepy demeanor.
Quid pro quo, which is Latin for “this for that,” means offering some benefit in exchange for sexual favors. It’s typical in a supervisor-subordinate relationship since the supervisor is in the position to offer benefits.
In terms of severity, quid pro quo cases are worse. This is because you may encounter supervisors, managers, or higher-level members of the company abusing their power to force you into a corner. You might feel trapped and forced to give them sexual favors to avoid getting fired or humiliated in the workplace.
If you’re uncomfortable due to any reasonable cause, make sure the offender knows your boundaries. They may not know that their behavior is inappropriate. If they’re a reasonable person, they’ll understand your boundaries and respect them.
However, there are times when it can be hard to speak directly to the person, such as when it is your boss.
In such situations, you could talk to HR. They should be well-equipped to handle sexual harassment cases in the office. You should also talk to them if the person doesn’t change their behavior after you’ve communicated your boundaries.
Set boundaries in different ways. Limit who can add you on social media. Restrict who can call your personal phone number and who can drop by your place.
You can also do it in the workplace too. Whenever you go for a bathroom break or when you’re on lunch, make sure you’re not alone. Bring a friend to guarantee you don’t appear isolated and easy or available for them to manipulate.
Don’t forget to set social boundaries too. Let your superiors and co-workers know what you feel uncomfortable about. Some people are fine with friendly hugs and dirty jokes while others might not — set those boundaries early to make sure they know when they crossed the line.
In any case, make sure you have a record of each or most of the incidents. Write down the dates, locations, people involved, and offensive behavior. If there’s any witness, write down their names, too.
Got any abusive messages? Whether it was through SMS, email, chat apps, or any other platform, make it a point to keep a copy. Screenshot everything because the sender could delete the evidence as soon as you start filing a case against them.
It’s a lot harder to get evidence regarding disturbing physical behavior. There may be state laws preventing you from recording video or audio in the workplace. Some abusers also work around security measures by only approaching when in the bathroom, locker room, or cleaning room.
Even though you don’t have footage, make sure to write down how and when these events happened. Try to be as specific as you can with the timestamps. Having a proper timeline of events can help you out in case things go to court.
This will help you if you want to take it up to senior management or to court. Make sure to check your local laws. California labor laws, for example, outline what constitutes sexual harassment.
Sometimes, though, you can’t stop sexual haras
Look for Another Job
sment through these steps alone; this kind of inappropriate behavior may be already ingrained in the culture of the workplace.
If you don’t think nothing is changing and you still don’t want to sue, the next best thing to do here might be to find a new job for the sake of your safety and mental well-being.
Don’t consider this as a defeat. At the end of the day, your safety and health are your priorities. If maintaining these requires relocating and trying new ventures, then go for it!
When you do move to a new workplace, it’s likely that they’ll ask you why you quit your last job. You may want to inform them about the sexual harassment you experienced and how you felt trapped in your last job. They may be able to assure you they have better procedures to keep their employees safe.
The safest option is to seek work online. Not every career is open to this option and you can still experience sexual harassment online — such as your employer refusing to pay you until you do something sexual in return. That said, you’ll at least have the comfort and safety of working in your home.
Seek Professional Help to Stop Sexual Harassment
If you decide to file a case against the perpetrator, you’ll need professional help. Go to a trustworthy lawyer who doesn’t only need your money but also seeks to stop sexual harassment for you and other victims, as well.