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Information and Resources

Sexual Harassment

What is Sexual Harassment?

1.) Sexual Harassment is deliberate and/or repeated sexual behavior that is not welcome, and not asked for. There are three forms:

  • Physical - touching, pinching, and grabbing body parts, being cornered
  • Verbal - making sexual gestures, looks, jokes, or verbal comments, spreading sexual rumors or making sexual propositions
  • Visual - sending sexual notes or pictures, writing sexual graffiti

2.) Hostile Environment is any sexually oriented conduct or atmosphere that is intimidating or offensive to a "reasonable victim" who is exposed to the sexual harassment of another person.

3.) Quid Pro Quo means "you do something for me, I'll do something for you" in Latin. Examples of this form of sexual harassment would be trading sexual favors for grades.

The following 3 things have to exist before something is considered sexual harassment:

  • The behavior must be sexual in nature and sex-based.
  • The behavior must be unwelcome and unwanted.
  • The behavior must be deliberate and/or repeated.

Sexual Harassment's Impact on the Individual

Emotional Reactions:

Anxiety, anger, fear, frustration, insecurity, betrayal, embarrassment, confusion, self-consciousness, shame, powerlessness, guilt, isolation, lack of control.

Physical Reactions:

Headaches, sleeplessness, stomach aches, weight gain or loss, phobias, panic attacks, nightmares.

Social Effects:

Withdrawal, fear of new people or situations, lack of trust, self-preoccupation, changes in dress or physical appearance, negative attitudes.

Academic Effects:

Changes in study or work habits, loss of job or promotion, negative performance evaluations, drop in work performance due to stress, lower grades as punishment for reporting sexual harassment or for turning down sexual advances.

How NOT to Harass:

  • Until you learn otherwise, assume that a person you don't know well will not enjoy sexual jokes or sexual advances.
  • Work on your listening skills. If a person's response, whether verbal or physical, seems negative, trust that it is. Does he or she avert their eyes?
  • Assume no means no
  • Put yourself in their place. Would you want your sister, brother, girlfriend, or boyfriend treated that way?
  • If you think you have offended someone, try to discuss the matter directly and apologize, and don't engage in the behavior again.
  • Refrain from telling jokes that demean men or women.
  • Speak up when you see someone harassing another individual. If you are feeling uncomfortable, there is a chance that other people are feeling uncomfortable too.

Some Statistics

  • An average of 59% of females who work have personally experienced sexual harassment. (1)
  • 4 out of 5 students report having been the target of sexual harassment at school. (3)
  • 85% of girls and 76% of boys report having been sexually harassed. (3)
  • More than one-third of students have been the target of sexual rumors. (3)
  • When sexual harassment occurs, it is usually not a single event: 39% of girls reported being harassed at school on a daily basis. (4)
  • Sources:

    1. Sexual Harassment Resources Guide, Barbara Cook Washington State Human Rights Commission. Revised 1992.
    2. Working woman United Institute, NY 1974.
    3. Hostile Hallways: The AAUW Survey on Sexual Harassment in America's School (1993).
    4. Secrets in Public: Sexual Harassment in Our Schools. Seventeen Magazine (1993).
Page Updated 01.16.2014