As a victim of workplace sexual harassment, there are a few ways you can fight back. The approach that you take depends largely on the circumstances surrounding your situation.
The one thing you need to remember is this: It’s never a good idea to let an instance of sexual harassment go by without taking action. If you do this, your harasser may assume that it’s okay to continue with their behavior.
Here’s what you should do if you’re a victim of workplace sexual harassment:
- Tell your harasser to stop: Not only should you tell them to stop, but it’s critical that you do so in a forceful manner that leaves no room for interpretation. You want it to be 100% clear that you’re not okay with what they’re doing. This is often enough to scare the person from trying anything again in the future.
- Report the incident: You can report the incident to your supervisor and/or HR department. It’s typically best to let your HR department know what happened, as they can file a formal complaint. This way, should something happen in the future, you have proof that it’s an ongoing issue.
- Collect evidence: This is one of the most important steps, as your harasser could always say that you’re lying. Any type of evidence that’s available is evidence that’s worth collecting and keeping in a safe place. For example, if your harasser sent you a sexually suggestive text message or email, save it. Or if a co-worker witnessed the person harassing you, ask them to make a statement on your behalf to the HR department. The more evidence you collect, the better off you’ll be.
After you do the above, you must decide what to do next. You can stop here and hope that the issue is over. You can also take legal action, depending on the circumstances of the harassment.
Remember, your employer is responsible for protecting you against sexual harassment. If they don’t take the appropriate action, you have every right to hold them responsible. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you in the workplace.