Sexual Harassment - UK

Sexual Harassment - UK


As a society, we’re very loud to talk and express our opinions, and yet at times it feels as though we’re silent about some of the things that matter. About the things that hurt others. About the things that are controversial. About the things that may change other people’s lives. For the worse.

Things such as sexual harassment. As William Keepin put it, “in all societies, both women and men are powerfully conditioned to repress the daily realities of (sexual harassment and workplace glass ceilings) and to collude with the rest of society in keeping these dimensions of shared experiences hidden.” 

And why should such stories remain hidden? Why should victims be ashamed of their experiences? Why should abusers get away with what they did? Why should people have to deal with consequences after such traumatic episodes? 

This is precisely why we’ll discuss this article - besides answering these questions, we’ll also offer some further insight into how you can expand your current knowledge regarding sexual harassment.

Without further ado, let’s get started. 

What Is Sexual Harassment? 

Sexual harassment has been defined as 

offensive, unwanted and unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature. Harmless flirting between consensual parties is NOT sexual harassment. However, when the feelings are no longer mutual and one party persists even though the other party makes it clear that he or she is no longer interested, the other party may be deemed to have crossed the line.

Sexual harassment comes in many shapes and forms. It may be explicit or subtle, a one-off occurrence or an ongoing “torture”. It can also be verbal, visual, and, of course, physical. Here are some examples of each type of sexual harassment

Verbal sexual harassment: 

  • abusive messaging;
  • catcalling;
  • kissing noises;
  • sexist comments, but also sexual jokes and remarks;
  • constantly asking someone out who’s clearly not interested.

Visual sexual harassment: 

  • looking a person up and down (so called- elevator eyes, usually men look women up and down);
  • offensive gestures, staring, and sending sexual videos;
  • sexually explicit emails, images, and/or text messages;

Physical sexual harassment: 

  • giving someone a massage around the neck;
  • hugging, storking, kissing, or patting,
  • touching any part of a person's body;
  • brushing up against another person;
  • standing very close to someone (invading their personal space);
  • touching oneself sexually around another person or rubbing;
  • cornering someone.

Sexual Harassment Definition 

Sexual harassment is: 

  • said to include a wide range of actions and behaviors (all of them unpleasant and unwelcomed); 
  • absolutely disrespectful;
  • inappropriate sexual behavior;
  • unwanted sexual attention which may lead to explicit sexual coercion;
  • much more frequent than people believe; 
  • humiliating and awful;
  • pervasive; 
  • a severe problem;
  • panful (both physically and emotionally, depending on the victim, the situation, and what took place);
  • a big deal; 
  • possible to be a one time occurrence or a repetitive event.

Sexual harassment isn’t: 

  • as discussed as it should be;
  • exclusive to one gender or sex (a lot of people associate sexual harassment as something that men to do women, however, men can be harassed too); 
  • always reported (although this is something that should be encouraged); 
  • the same as sexual assault:
    • sexual assault has been defined as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the consent of the recipient [and] sexual assault occurs when a person is forced, coerced, or manipulated into any unwanted sexual activity”;
  • classified as a crime, although the person who has been harassed has the right to sue in civil court;
  • treated and perceived in the same manner everywhere - namely, this survey shows that tolerance levels vary across Europe when it comes to sexual harassment (however there are things commonly accepted everywhere - for instance, groping is unacceptable everywhere in Europe); 
  • consent - it’s the opposite;
  • a joke;
  • easily forgotten (or forgiven, for that matter).

The History of Sexual Harassment 

 Dana Arcuri stated:

Religious sexual harassment and abuse has become an epidemic. Sadly, it's not something new. It's existed since the fall of Adam and Eve. Religion is not exempt. A sacred place meant to be safe and holy has become the breeding ground for violence and evil.

While this explanation may apply to religious sexual harassment, we dare expand it. We dare say all sexual harassment existed “since the fall of Adam and Eve”, and as for the world - it seems as though the more it progresses, the less it is “a sacred place meant to be safe and holy”.

Put simply, sexual harassment and abuse have existed since the dawn of time. They may not have been defined the way they are today, there might not have been laws, regulations, and specific guidelines, however, they’ve been around for as long as we have. 

Now, the way they’ve been approached and accepted (or should we say UNaccepted) varies from one historical period to another, from one society to another, from one culture to another culture. But before we dwell on a wide range of counties and their understanding of sexual harassment as we know it, let’s go through some basics first. 

The contemporary and legal understanding of sexual harassment was first introduced as such in the 1970s. Many believe that Catharine MacKinnon, an American radical feminist and author, has come up with the term “sexual harassment” and introduced it in her 1979 book - Sexual Harassment of Working Women. However, that isn’t the case. 

In fact, it is believed that the term “sexual harassment” appeared in a 1972 The Globe and Mail issue (a newspaper), published in Toronto. However, the term first appeared in print in a report that dealt with discrimination back in 1973. The report was titled Saturn Rings, and was written by Mary Rowe (PhD). Rowe was the Chancellor for Women and Work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 

It’s also worth mentioning the following activists: Karen Sauvigne, Lin Farley and Susan Meyer. They formed Working Women United (WWU), a US based, women right’s organization whose purpose is to deal with sexual harassment of women within the workpalce. 

This goes hand in hand with the emergence of the Alliance Against Sexual Coercion. It was founded back in 1976 by Lynn Wehrli, Elizabeth Cohn-Stuntz, and Freada Klein. They were considered pioneers who brought people’s attention the existence of sexual harassment during the late 1970s. 

Another remarkable event took place a bit later on - in May 2002, the European Union Council and Parliament amended the 1976 Council Directive about the equal treatment of both women and men within their workplace to prevent sexual harassment. As part of the directive, the act of sexual harassment was regarded as violation of one’s dignity and a form of sex discrimination.

What triggered the “formal appearance” of sexual harassment?

However, how did we end up here? In other words, what brought about the need to have a legal understanding of sexual harassment in the first place?

First of all, let’s go back to the 19th century. A lot of women used to work as domestic servants. This was a position where they received verbal abuse, rude comments, and sexual harassment on a daily basis. It may not have been as brutal as the experiences black women had with enslavement (as sexual harassment was a major part of enslavement), but it was still there. 

Next, we need to consider those who worked in a wide range of factories. Let’s imagine a textile worker. Her coworkers may have been women, however, their bosses were male. So, sexual harassment (and even assault) was pretty much present in that setting too. However, female laborers didn’t really stand a chance against their bosses - there was a prevalent belief that women themselves were to be blamed for having those experiences to start with. 

Then, somewhere around the beginning of the 20th century, women started working as secretaries. Prior to that males used to be secretaries, however, the job became “feminized” so to speak, and so women were there most of the time to best suit the needs of their males bosses. 

Put simply, sexual harasment wasn’t randomly recongized as a form of sexual discrimination - it appeared as such after decades of strong feminist activism. 

Going back in history and trying to put the pieces together is important because as Kimberly Hamlin, an associate professor of History at Miami University, put it: “To eradicate sexual harassment, we need to understand the historical context in which it developed”. 

The perception of sexual harassment acorss a wide range of countries

Before we wrap up this section regarding the historical development of sexual harassment, we want to briefly share how sexual harаsmеnt is perceived in varios different countries. Of course, we’re not able to cover all of them, however, even this short list will give you a general understanding of it. 


First of all, there’s Australia’s Sex Discrimination Act (1984) provides the following definition of sexual harassment

a person sexually harasses another person (the person harassed ) if: 

(a) the person makes an unwelcome sexual advance, or an unwelcome request for sexual favours, to the person harassed; or 

(b) engages in other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in relation to the person harassed; in circumstances in which a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would have anticipated the possibility that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated.


Now onto Europe a bit. Let’s start with Germany. Germany not only has laws against sexual harassment, and such acts are punishable, but it makes constant progress and updates too. For example, in 2020 it even added the act of “cyber grooming” as part of sexual harassment behavior that’s being punishable as such. 


Denmark doesn’t have the term “sexual harassment” as part of its Criminal Code. However, there’s a term ““blufærdighedskrænkelse”, which is translated as “indecent exposure by touching, exposing oneself, spying on someone or by verbal and other lasciviousness, is considered to be a crime”. 


In France, the Labor Code and the Criminal Code are both very relevant when it comes to discussing sexual harassment. First of all, up till May 2012, the article 222-33 of their Criminal Code stated that sexual harassment is any act of obtaining favors of a sexual nature. However, since sexual harassment has been acknowledged as “something” that can occur between coworkers, and not only by managers and supervisor, the definition and the understanding of it were further expanded. 


If we move to Asia now, and discuss China, it’s worth mentioning the following: China’s law doesn’t openly define what sexual harassment is. It does, however, state that sexual harassment against women is prohibited (this is the 2005 Law for the Protection of Women’s Rights). 


The story about Japan is an interesting one. The notion of sexual harassment (or sekuhara in Japanese) became a widely spread one back in 1989. There was a court case in Fukuoka - a woman was being subjected to rude comments by her superior at the company she was working for, and the court ruled in favor of this woman. What’s more, the word “sekuhara” was named “Word of The Year'' in 1989. Mayumi Haruno, the woman involved in this case, doesn’t think that things have drastically changed afterwards. In fact, although people are much more aware of sexual harassment now than they used to be, “and even the word for the concept has taken root, but even then, people still say the same things and do the same things about the issue”. 


There are also countries, such as Egypt, where sexual harassment is much more common and much more serious than in those we’ve just discussed. There’s even older research which supports this argument, and yet very little has changed since then in practice. For instance, based on a 2013 research titled Study on Ways and Methods to Eliminate Sexual Harassment in Egypt, 99.3% of all Egyptian girls and women said they experienced some sort of sexual harassment throughout their lives. 


Morocco should be mentioned too. Back in 2018, Morocco finally introduced a bill which dealt with violence against women, abuse, and sexual harassment. This has been assessed as “the first step in the right direction”, as there is still a lot more to be done and addressed. 

Why Is Talking About Sexual Harassment Important?

Why would talking about something so bad, painful, humiliating, and illegal be of importance? Why are we discussing the significance of sexual harassment rather than talking about how to prevent it, and even eliminate it for good? 

Well, as it turns out, the presence of sexual harassment in a society (or the absence of it) speaks a lot about how that society functions. Sexual harassment is a neat reflection of how a specific society treats people, and whether it looks after them or not. 

Namely, if a country doesn’t do anything to address child abuse, sexual harasment in the workplace, tolerates abuse, and so on, this shows there’s a deeper underlying problem in that society. And unfortunately, it can’t be solved overnight. We’re talking about years and years (decades even) of a specific type of behavior, mentality, upbringing, laws (or the absence of laws), and that’s not easily changeable or fixable. 

It takes a lot of effort and education to make drastic changes. However, the first step is for one to realize there’s a problem to start with.

Next, talking about sexual harassment is also important because it tells people they need to learn to speak for themselves. They need to defend themselves even when they feel defenseless or defeated. They need to protect themselves even if they feel unprotected. They need to feel hopeful even when what happened to them made them feel hopeless. 

And while sexual harassment sitatuions may be one of the worst options to force people to speak up for themselves, it allows individuals to shed light upon dysfunctional organziaitons and companies (when we talk about sexual harassment in the workplace), domestic violence and abuse (when it happens at home), and improper educational values and aprooaches (when such things occur within an educational institution). 

So, stop putting pressure on yourself, and be confident in what you have to say because your sexul harassment story matters. 

How To Prevent Sexual Harassment? 

Preventing, stopping, and eliminating sexual harassment may all sound like daunting tasks because many believe such behvaior can’t be completely eradicted. In essence, it’s way too common to be permanently dealt with. 

That said, there are some ways that may assist with this. After all, giving up on it will certainly not make things better, so why not try to get there with small steps? 

First of all, when it comes to education, it’s helpful to teach both boys and girls from an early age what sexual harassment is, why abuse is bad, and what they shouldn't do to another person. Sexual harassment should be openly discussed and elaborated on. Pupils shouldn’t perceive it as a taboo topic. 

Next, in a work context, it’s important for each company to have a detailed sexual harassment policy. Also, if sexual harassment does occur in a workplace, then employers and the HR team should react right away and remedy the situation. In that way, they set proper example and let their employees know that sexual harassment isn’t something that’s taken lightly in that specific company. 

Finally, dealing with sexual harassment in public places is also an issue. People should feel encouraged to intervene when they see someone is being harassed/attacked. But it’s also useful to have street wardens (and maybe even police officers) in slightly unsafe areas or darker locations. More CCTV cameras are welcomed too. There should be more awareness campaigns, as well as letting people know where to go for help.

We analyze various different contexts in which sexual harassment appears in the folloiwng section, as well as ways to approach this, so expect more details and information regarding this issue as you read on. 

Examples of Sexual Harassment in Everyday Life 


Sexual harassment in an education setting refers to unwanted and unwelcomed behavior of a sexual nature which affects an educatee’s ability to study, take part in school’s activities, and simply be at peace with speding time in the educational institution they go to. It affects their emotional and physical well-being too. 

That said, sexual harassment in education is not limited to educatees only. There may be sexual harassment among educators too. However, when it happens to educatees, it comes across as much more alarming and scary. And the younger an educatee is, the more brutal the sexual harassment experience sounds. 

This is also connected to how we perceive educational institutions too. In other words, see schools as a safe place for our children, where teengers learn and socialize, and students prepare for their future job careers. We tend to think of schools as safe institutions that bring about our children’s further development and progress. So when such nasty things happen we’re left in awe, and we wonder “How did this happen?”, and “Why did this happen?”.

And while there’s never one correct answer, sometimes it’s even more important to ask ourselves “What can be done now AFTER it happened?”. In other words, how do we deal with this situation? How do we help the harassed? And more importantly, how do we make sure this doesn’t happen again? 

In these moments, it’s important for all educational institutions to show a clear attitude that sexual harassment will not be put up with. Also, in case educatees and educators aren’t fully familiarized with the sexual harassment policy, they defintiely should. In other words, you need to make sure they know all about it. The same applies to the school internet policies (although we have a separate section in this article that deals with online harassment, as we believe that the online harassment which takes place in schools is equally important and deserves to be mentioned separately). Plus, this may help individuals identify the early signs of sexual harassment in case something like this happens yet again in the future. 

Also, there should be consequences. Such behavior and unwanted sexual advances are intolerable and inexcusable. Now, should there be unified consequences for one’s behavior or should each institution have its own set of rules? This is worth exploring. 

Next, role-playing and various different educational exercises may help educatees understand the seriousness of their actions. Being able to see their behavior from another perspective may be quite eye-opening. The same applies to educators too. What’s more, such activities might help certain educatees understand they may have been harassed, even if they haven’t been quite aware of it before they saw that specific scenario as a role play. Put simply, they may be encouraged to share their own experiences, and these activities may create the safe space they need to do so. 

Where does sexual harassment take place? 

Now, besides understanding what sexual harassment in education is and how and why it happens, we need to consider where it most commonly takes place. Below, we share two survey findings (one is the AAUW survey, which stands for American Association of University Women, and the other one is the Connecticut survey). Here are the results: 

AAUW survey 

Connecticut survey 

in the hall 



in the classroom 



outside of school, on school grounds (other than the parking lot) 



in the gymnasium, on the playing field, or pool area 



in the cafeteria 



in the school parking lot 



other places (including the school parking lot, school grounds, etc.) 



Where do schools come into play with all of this?

When an educatee experiences sexual harassment in an educational instituon, how do we expect that same institution to protect them? And even if the institution does try to provide protection and comfort, the very place becomes unsafe for the victim. Plus, we need to consider the victim’s fear of seeing the harasser yet again. Here’s one student confession

After an attempted assault my freshman year, I left school and was hospitalized for two days because I was ill from stress. When I came back I got a D on an exam—up until that point I had been a straight-A student. I stopped taking courses I thought he would be interested in, stopped hanging out with groups of mutual friends and refrained from participating in organizations he was a part of. I suffered panic attacks when I ran into him.

This may be just one example, and each victim deals with the consequences in their own way, however, it’s safe to assume that things never quite go back to the way they were for the victims of sexual harassment. And that’s why the school’s support matters so much. Having an institution to rely on may ease the process of slowly getting back to normality (whatever that means for each victim).

However, reality shows something different. Schools and higher education institutions may turn their backs on the educatees. Put simply, harassed educatees may not find justice if they wait upon their institution. They may not find understanding, support, and a shoulder to cry on there either. As a 2016 Yale Law School article explains: 

Students frequently believe the institutions they dreamed of attending will identify with and want to help them. Uncovering and living through the slowly unfolding nightmare of its other agendas and higher priorities comes as a shock. It is remarkable how many accounts of sexual harassment in education focus on the school turning against the reporting student rather than on the sexual abuse itself. Many a student who begins the process believing in the beneficence and caring of their institution and its intentions is grievously, even viciously, disappointed.

Finally, both educatees and educators should be critical toward everything they hear, see, or do. It’s very easy to misinterpret someone’s behavior, words, and actions, especially if you’re convinced there’s more to something than meets the eye. However, having the right information and being aware of the potential consequences that come with sexual harassment places a lot of responsibility on both educatees and educators, but it seems that this is the only way people can start taking this matter seriously and not put it on hold. 

How to approach this?

If you’re the educator:
  • What is meant by sexual harassment in a school context? What do you usually associate it with - is it an educator harassing another educator, or an educator harassing an educatee? Perhaps even an educator being harassed by an educatee’s parent? 
  • As an educator, how would you define a sexually intimidating or hostile environment for educatees within an educational setting? 
  • How do you feel about the following situations: 
    • an educator using sexually suggestive cartoons or clips to teach a subject which is not related to sex?
    • an educator forming a special and close bond with one of her/his educatees? 
    • hearing male educatees talking about their female peers in a nasty sexual manner?
    • school staff making sexul pranks and jokes (and even discussing their own sex life) on the school premises?
    • a bunch of students interfering with the educator’s discussion and turning it into a sexual topic? 
    • the school staff are in the staff room and they look at some nude photos and videos?
  • What steps should schools take in order to prevent sexual harassment from happening? Do you think sexual harassment should be disccused as part of the sexual education classes? Would something like this be useful? How else can schools raise enough awareness in regards to sexual harassment and the impact such activity has on the individuals?
    • Should parents be expected to contribute to this? Put simply, should parents discuss such matters at home with their children? If yes, at what age would it be acceptable to talk about sexual harassment with your child? 
  • Should schools discuss formulating an adequate school policy regarding sexual harassment prevention? How can this be approached? In essence, how should schools implement this policy? Also, what should some of the corresponding measures be? 
  • How does sexual harassment in middle school or high school differ from the one that occurs within a university setting (keeping in mind that middle schoolers and high schoolers are underage compared to university students)?
  • What should an educatee do if they’ve been harassed (either by an educator or another educatee)? Who should they turn to? Should they lodge a formal complaint to the school’s principal or should they talk to their main educator first? Or perhaps they may decide to discuss this at home first and then come to the school with their parents/guardians? 
    • What about if we’re talking about sexual harassment within a university context? How should this situation be handled? 
  • How should schools approach confidentiality when it comes to a sexual harassment complaintt? In other words, should they disclose the details to the alleged sexual harasser? Why? Why not? 
  • What kind of an impact can an ongoing sexual harassment have on an educatee? What are some of the potential consequences? For instance, will it only affect their grades and the way they perceive the overall institution? Will it also affect their other interpersonal relationships? How can such serious consequences be prevented? 
If you’re the educatee: 
  • What do you think: in a school setting, who are the potential sexual harassers? And why? 
  • How would you react if you, an educatee, witnessed one educator harassing another educatee? What if an educator was harassing another educator? Both are obviously very serious situations, however, which one seems much more bothersome to you? 
  • Do you think sexual education should be mandatory in each school? Is sexual harassment supposed to be mentioned and talked about alongside sexual education? Why? Why not?
  • How did you first learn about sexual harassment and what it meant? How does thinking about this uncomfortable topic make you feel? Are you able to freely discuss it? 
  • If you ever experienced any kind of sexual harassment within an educational institution, who would you go to first? Would it be someone from the institution or a parent? Perhaps even a close friend? What would you do if the school refused your complaint? How would you seek justice for what was done to you? 
  • Is it sexual harassment if an educator touches an educatee? Does it depend on whether this happens during a lecture or outside the campus? How close should professors be with their students?
  • How can the university have control over sexual interactions which happen off-campus (and which include university employers and students)? And should the university be responsible at all?
  • Do you think peers may harass themselves without actually knowing they’re doing it? In other words, if an educatee keeps asking another educatee to send them a nude photo, do they know they’re sexually harassing the other person? 
  • Do you think educatees who have experienced some form of sexual harassment within a school setting are afraid to report the harraser in case the person decides to retaliate? How can the victims be protected? How can they start feeling safe again? Can they somehow report anonymously? 
  • When it comes to sexual harassment, what can be considered unacceptable behavior during classes? 
  • Which of the following scenarios are considered sexual harassment within a university context: 
    • a hostile learning environment? 
    • sexual organs exposure?
    • open sexualization of a student?
    • sexual remarks, comments, requests, and jokes?
    • inappropriate touching?
    • random gift-giving?
    • spreading sexual rumors about students?
    • pressuring students to comply with various sexual favors?
    • dicriminating against a student based on their sex?
    • sharing sexually explicit information and materials during lectures?
  • Read the following statement: “A sexually abusive environment prevents a student from obtaining the most from an academic program and inhibits him or her from developing his or her intellectual potential.”
    • Do you agree with this? Why? Why not? 
    • Do you think the same can apply to pupils and not only to students? In other words, can “a sexually abusive environment” have the same impact on younger individuals and prevent them from “developing his or her intellectual potential”?


Susan Ho, one of the founders of Jounry, a travel startup, said: “When you talk about sexual harassment in tech or in any other industry, it's like dropping a nuclear bomb on your career”.

And this isn’t even an exaggeration. Not at all. Sexual harassment in the workplace is such a widespread topic, yet it’s ignored time and time by those who need to address it (or those who harass people). 

Now, if you’re an employee, who can you be harassed by? You can be harassed by someone you work with, a supervisor or a manager (anyone with a high position within a company/organization), or even a client or a customer. 

Here’s one example from a woman: “An officer at work cornered me, then pinned me against a wall in a stairwell and told me exactly what I could do for him to get a promotion. Then he tried kissing me.”

Being sexually harassed is much more than just being treated unfairly and poorly at work. It goes much deeper than that. And yet, many classify it as common behavior. 

That said, identifying sexual harassment properly isn’t always easy. Yet, it’s highly important. So, here are some behaviors to watch out for: 

  • sharing sexual images, inappropriate videos (such as porn), and texts with co-workers; 
  • making inappropriate sexual jokes at work in front of colleagues; 
  • touching others in an uncomfortable and sexual manner; 
  • brushing up against another person;
  • asking colleagues intimate details about their sex life, or critizing some of their sexual experiences and making offenisve comments; 
  • sending notes, emails, and/or texts of sexual nature; 
  • making inappropriate and sex-based comments about a coworker’s apperance, clothes, body parts, and so on. 

The fears related to sexual harassment at work 

A lot of people are ashamed of the sexual harassment they experience at their workplace. They find it humiliating, probably because it makes them feel inferior and powerless. This may be especially highlighted in situations where the harassment comes from a person who has more power than the victim (such as a supervisor, or an employer). After all, such an experience may be quite intimidating. Usually the more powerful a person is, the longer the harassment. 

Harassed employees are very frequently afraid of retaliation. In other words, they have no idea what negative action or response they may be faced with after their harassment confession. This can include, but is not limited to salary reduction or demotion, shift reassignment and change in responsibilities, poor performance reviews, verbal abuse, termination of one’s contract, and so on. 

That said, many believe victims shouldn’t worry about retaliation as there are many federal laws protecting their rights. For instance, here are some of the most common federal laws in the USA:

  • Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Age Discrimination and Employment Act (ADEA)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Rehabilitation Act
  • Equal Pay Act (EPA)
  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)

Why are workers afraid of speaking up? 

Some of the harassed people may not trust the HR team too. As the HR works for the management (and not for the employees), they may report to the harasser and so the victims don’t think they’ll receive the support they hope for. Victims may be told they’re exaggerating, or that such behavior is common and they shouldn’t make a big deal out of it. 

Also, many harassed employees are afraid of how their peers will react after reporting a sexual harassment incident. For instance, they may not be sure their coworkers will support them and resonate with their experience - they may stay quiet or support the abuser (especially if the abuser is of a higher rank) out of fear of losing their job or facing other consequences. 

What’s more, as sexual harassment is such a sensitive topic, you can never be sure what the other person’s reaction may be. For example, some of your peers may be experiencing sexual harassment from their partner, another family member, or they may be dealing with it at work too (only nobody knows it yet, so they could be in the same situation as you are). Plus, some of them may have tried to do something about it, but their efforts have been shut down or even trivialized, so they don’t feel comfortable being exposed to sexual harassment comments and remarks. 

They also might come across comment such as: 

  • “You’ll get into trouble for saying this out loud.”
  • “I just don’t believe women are really telling the truth. They’re just trying to manipulate their boss/supervisor/manager.”
  • “This can’t be real - she’s probably trying to get back at her boss for not giving her the promotion she expected.”
  • “Sexual harassment doesn’t happen to men.”
  • “There’s no point in discussing this.”
  • “This happens to everyone.”
  • “Be a man and suck it up.”
  • “What do I have to do with all of this?”
  • “Well, don’t you think you may have been asking for it? I mean, men may find your dresses quite provocative at times.”
  • “So what?”
  • “What if he meant it as a compliment and you’re making a big deal out of this?”

Where does this leave the victims? 

And while such conversations are tricky and uncomfortable, people need to have them. In other words, nothing will change about their sexual harassment experiences, if they don’t take action to address the issue at hand. 

So, the first step to trying to do something about your sexual harassment story is to find someone and confide in them. You may not wish to report this right away - you may feel vulnerable, afraid, confused, and quite frankly shocked. However, having someone listen to your worries and concerns is a healing experience on its own. 

Also, you don’t have to share every single bit of your story. Share as much as you feel you can at this point - and although it may feel uncomfortable, there’s no other way to start addressing the problem. If you wait till you’re comfortable to talk about it, chances are you’ll be waiting forever. 

It’s worth noting that each and every sexual harassment comlpaint needs to be taken seriously. It is every employer’s duty to look after their employees, and make sure they feel safe and emotionally stable enough to not only do their job, but also enjoy spending time in their company/organization. 

So, employers should take into account: the individual who filed the complaint, the individual who witnessed the harassment, the potential harasser, and each of these people’s personal history (for instance, were they ever involved in such a harassment issue before?).

Finally, employers not only have a professional responsibility to resolve such serious matters - they should know they have a moral one too. 

How to approach this?

If you’re the employer:
  • How do you understand sexual harassment within a work environment context? 
  • As an employer, how can you make sure your employees feel safe and protected at work? 
  • Has there ever been a situation within your company/organization where an employee harassed another employee? What exactly happened? How was the problem resolved? How did the other employees react? Did this event cause any “permanent damage” when it comes to the overall work atmosphere in your company/organization?
  • What do you think - why would people harass others at work when they know they’ll likely have to work with the other person? Or they know they might be reported? 
  • If someone experiences sexual harassment in your company/organizaion, what should they do next? Do they come to you straight away? Perhaps they talk to the company’s psychologist (if there’s one) or the HR team? Also, do you provide your employees with a detailed sexual harassment policy? If you do, what does it say? 
  • Does your company/organization allow coworkers to date each other? Why? Why not? Also, are your employees aware of such rules? 
  • How can employers prevent sexual harassment in the workplace?
  • What happens if an employee is being harassed by a client of the company? How can this be resolved? 
  • Is there any time limit as to when an employee should file a sexul harassment compaint? In other words, should they do it right away when it happens, or when they feel like opening up about it? 
  • Have you ever thought about an employee in a sexual way? What preceded those thoughts? In other words, has that specific employee done or said something that made you think about that person in such a manner? 
  • As an employer, which of the following behaviors and intentions would you classify as sexual harassment within the workplace: 
    • verbal, non-verbal, and physical sexual behavior?
    • sexual coercion, sexual jokes, pranks, and any type of explicitly stated sexual intentions?
    • unwanted flirtation?
    • remarks about a person’s physical body (especially in front of that person while other colleagues are listening)?
    • turning random or professional discussions into inappropriate and sexul topics? 
    • looking a colleague up and down or just staring at them in a sexual manner?
    • invading a colleague's personal space or their privacy (for instance, taking their phone or going through their work PC)? 
    • sending a colleague unwanted gifts (some of them could suggest sexual intentions such as lingerie, sex toys, and so on)? 
    • sending sexual letters, emails, text messages although you were asked to stop several times?
    • repeatedly asking whether they’d like to go on a date with you?
    • ongoing requests for sexual favors?
    • hugging, touching, massaging, and other gestures (although the recipient finds them offensive)? 
If you’re the employee:
  • What does it mean to work in a hostile environment? Also, what specific factors may be used to determine whether a working environment is indeed hostile or not?
  • Have you ever witnessed sexual harassment within your workplace? If you have, what happened? Did you intervene? Who did you talk to afterward? Were you asked to retell what happened and what you saw? 
  • Are you aware of your company’s sexual harassment policy? In essence, if you’re being harassed, do you know who you should report this to? Do you know what sexual harassment at work is said to entail? 
  • What happens if you date someone from work (provided that the company/organization you work for allows coworkers to date), and then that person doesn’t really leave you alone? What will you do? Will you try to explain that you’re no longer interested in them or you’ll go to your supervisor/manager/employer straight away? 
    • What about if you’ve dated this person, however, your company has a policy which states that coworkers aren’t allowed to date. Will you still tell the truth and go to your supervisor/manager/employer (knowing you’re probably risking your position too)? 
  • What happens if you complain to your supervisor/manager/employer, however, they don’t really take you seriously or they simply don’t respond to your sexual harassment complaints? What will you do next? How are you going to solve your issue? 
  • Can an employer fire an employee for sexual harassment? Why? Why not? 
  • Imagine there’s sexual harassment within the company, only this time it comes from the manager. In other words, it’s not an issue between two employees, but there’s someone with a superior position harassing an employee. Does this complicate things? If yes, in what way? Who should the harassed employee talk to? Can the company potentially try to hide this? 
  • People often think only women are harassed at work. However, men can be harassed too. How can companies raise awareness about male sexual harassment? Also, do you think men are more embarrassed to talk about sexual harassment than women? Why is that so? How can this be changed? In other words, how can men be encouraged to step forward with their stories of sexual harassment? 
  • Should an employee be transferred to another department after experiencing sexual harassment? Why? Why not? 
  • Can sexual harassment within a company/organization impact the company’s/organizations’s success and overall performance? Why? Why not? 
  • Imagine a coworker is being harassed by an outside party (meaning it has nothing to do with the company). Do you think the coworker should still talk to someone within the company and let them know what they’re dealing with? Why? Why not? 


Online sexual harassment may not do physical harm (as both the victim and the perpetrator are in front of a screen), however, its emotional impact and consequecnes are far from being insignificant. 

That said, online harassment can easily become a physical one (just imagine someone chatting with a stranger on Instagram, they decide to meet, and the so-called stranger shows their real face). 

Now, when it comes to online sexual harassment, it’s worth noting that such behavior typically includes digital content such as images (usually nudes), videos (again, sexual in nature), posts and messages which allude to sex and intimacy, and so on. 

It’s important to understand that online harassment may not begin online at all. For instance, imagine one of your friends breaks up with her boyfriend (and they’ve been together for quite some time), and then the ex-boyfriend starts harassing your friend and sends her nudes. Or worse, in order to get revenge for her ending things with him, he starts sharing nude photos of her across various social media channels. 

Such situations are even more unpleasant than when dealing with a stranger. When one is sexually harassed by a close person (or someone who used to be close to us such as in the example we just gave), there’s a lot of guilt, self-blame, and shame. Of course, such feelings can appear within different harassment contexts and even when one is dealing with random people. However, the level of betrayal, pain, and distrust are beyond imaginable when we’re involved in such a situation with someone we know and have had a connection with.

Online harassment experiences with younger generations 

Online sexual harassment isn’t a “scary experience” just for adults. It can get quite intimidating for children and teengers too. In fact, they may even have it worse, as they’re not always aware of the potential danger of the digital world. For many it might be even hard to differentiate between someone’s good intentions on the Internet and their hidden agenda.

And the fact that many young individuals hide their digital endeavors from their parents isn’t helping at all. Do you know that allegedly 70% if teeneagers are said to hide their online behavior from their parents? Here are some of the ways they do so:

  • 53% clear their browser history;
  • 46% close or minimize their Internet browser when a parent walks in;
  • 34% delete or hide videos and IMs;
  • 23% lie or skip details regarding their online activities; 
  • 23% use a computer that their parents don’t check;
  • 21% use an Internet-enabled device;
  • 20% use privacy settings to make sure only their friends can see certain content;
  • 20% use a private browsing mode;
  • 15% create private email addresses, unknown to their parents;
  • 9% create fake (duplicate) social network profiles.

And while these examples don’t really allude to any type of sexual harassment, they give insight into how teenegarer approach the online world: secretively and independently.

Why don't children report online abuse? 

Besides children being secretive about their digital endeavors, there’s another thing we’ve come to realize: you won’t report something you don’t perceive as a problem. In essence, children may not report online abuse, as they don’t see it as a problem to start with. Here are some children’s responses about abusive online messages so that you get a general idea of what we mean:

You’re not physically doing anything. Things like this are said all the time. You can’t arrest everyone on the internet. – Year 12 pupil.

Even though it’s disgusting, as long as there’s no physical violence, it’s okay. Free speech. It’s an opinion. – Year 13 pupil.

Don’t think you could be arrested … Nothing happens on social media, no one gets into trouble, so many people say bad stuff. – Year 8 pupil.

It’s pretty much self-explanatory why such statements are alarming. Claims such as “you’re not physically doing anything”, “things like this are said all the time”, “as long as there’s no physical violence, it’s okay”, and “nothing happens on social media [...], many people say bad stuff” are commonly accepted among children and teenagers. 

That said, they sometimes don’t even think there’s something to accept - such online behavior seems to be the norm for them. Even coming across disturbing and illegal internet material doesn’t bother them because they don’t see it as problematic - they simply acknowledge it for what it is and then move on to the next article/post/video/image/meme/profile.

This doesn’t mean this should stay like this, though. In other words, if children fail to recognize abuse patterns, online sexual harassment, and abuse, that doesn’t mean adults can’t. In essence, it’s up to experts to share how this delicate subject can be approached. It’s up to them to guide parents, educators, and then the children themselves to identify problematic online behavior. 

This matters because while for some online sexual harassment may turn out to be harmless, for others it may escalate and transform into a physical one. And this may unfortunately mean that a point of no return has been reached.

How to approach this? 

  • Define online abuse. What does online harassment mean to you personally? How do you understand it? 
  • Is there a huge difference between online harassment and physical harassment? In what way? Of course, we understand that physical harassment may be more dangerous, as the perpetrator is in front of you, however, what are the risks and the danger involved when it comes to online harassment?
  • Have you ever been harassed online? If you have, what exactly happened? Was this on an ongoing basis? How did you feel? How was this harassment issue resolved? Did you let anybody know? Did you look for advice?
  • If you haven’t experienced being harassed online, what would you do if it happened? How would you react? 
  • Imagine someone is harassing you on an online forum. What will you do about it? Will you let it go or react accordingly? 
  • How would you deal with an anonymous harasser? 
  • Imagine your friend’s partner took a naked photo of them (or they have sent their partner a nude), but in the meantime they break up, and the partner ends up posting the photo online. There are a lot of “nasty” comments under the photo. What steps would you advise your friend to take to handle this incredibly uncomfortable situation? How can you help them? Is there a way out of this?
    • This is also linked to sextortion, when a person is asked to do something if they don’t wish their sexually explicit photos to be released online. 
  • Some people believe that being present on social media and on the Internet in general goes hand in hand with potential online harassment. In other words, it should be accepted as such and one shouldn’t be bothered about it. Do you agree with this? Why? Why not? What’s the potential harm of neglecting online harassment (or worse - accepting it as it is)? 
  • Do you think you protect all of your personal details on the Internet sufficiently? Can you do more? 
  • Do you respond to emails from unknown sources? Why? Why not? 
  • If you keep on getting harassing and quite offensive messages/emails, do you know how to find out who’s sending them/where they’re sent from? 
  • Which of the following behaviors is risky (in a way that makes you prone to experiencing some sort of online abuse) when it comes to how you use the Internet: 
    • posting images of yourself on the Internet? 
    • using your full name on social media platforms, random chat rooms, social media channels, message boards, discussion forums, and so on?
    • posting your contact information such as phone number, current address, location, and so on on the Internet? 
    • sharing your passwords (even with your close friends)?
    • making your profile visible to all users?
    • entering a sex chatroom?
    • posting provocative photos of yourself across a wide range of social media channels?
    • creating a provocative username (or a provocative email address)?
    • accepting friend requests from strangers (or you adding them)?
    • agreeing to meet with someone in person after briefly chatting with them online?
    • downloading pornograhic photos from pornographic sites?
    • chattiing with strangers about some sensitive topics such as sex, relanthsips, poltiics, and so on?
    • posting your plans on the Internet (for instance, your plans for the day, or what you’ll be doing at a specific time and where you’ll be)?
    • talking to a stranger on the Internet using a webcam? 
    • accepting links and some file transfers from strangers on the Internet?

Public places

Sexual harassment in a public place can start at any age. And it can manifest itself in many different ways, and in various different contexts. 

For instance, here’s an example of a woman who was going home after school (this happened when she was younger) and walked down a busier road and she explains that “it was normal for men to lean out of vans to wolf-whistle or to shout inappropriate things at me. I remember on one occasion, when I was [under 18 years of age], a man shouting -very inappropriate, sexual comments-”. 

Such street harassment is one of the most common types of harassment in public places. Street harassment usually includes verbal and/or non-vrbal behavior, followed by remarks which are quite sexual and inappropriate in nature. It may also include various comments on the “victim’s” physical appearance. 

Overall, street harassment is fairly common and may include some (or most) of these unwanted behaviors

  • random demands, requests, and comments; 
  • receiving comments regarding one’s physical appearance (such as one’s clothes and/or body); 
  • continuing to talk to a person although they have asked you to leave them alone; 
  • flashing;
  • following, stalking, staring, and/or groping; 
  • whistling (this usually happens when the “victim” is walking and the harasser is in a car); 
  • touching or public masturbation; 
  • using a mirror in order to look up a girl’s/woman’s dress (or skirt) without their permission; 
  • taking a photo of someone or showing them pornographic images without their consent; 
  • invading someone’s personal space or blocking their way;
  • asking someone persistently for their number, name, or any other personal information; 
  • upskirtng - the act of taking photos of someone’s skirt without their permission; 
  • being exposed to racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or any other type of insulting comments. 

It’s important to understand that this kind of harassment can happen to anyone - regardless of their age, status, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and so on. However, that doesn’t make it good in any way. Being told you “look sexy” or having someone touch parts of your body and make you feel uncomfortable is never okay. Such behavior is far from receiving a compliment.

What’s more, such experiences may lead to people feeling as though they’re not in control over their body (when someone touches them without permission, gropes them, or takes images of them without them giving any consent); they could feel as though they’re being perceived only as a sexual object; they may question the way they’re dressed each time they go outside; they might have trouble understanding why this is happening to them, and whether it’s because they may have done/said to cause this, and so on.

Finally, harassment in public places is a big issue because, at the end of the day, each person (with no exception) deserves to feel safe outdoors on their own. What’s more, each person deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. As Shahla Khan put it: 

Practically, speaking up against street harassment is not about being a hero, getting credit points to be in the good books of a girl or a chance to impress anyone. It is about making sure that everyone has the right to enjoy that spring breeze, golden clouds and chirping without feeling uncomfortable.

When/where do we feel (un)safe?

We all want to be free to go where we want, when we want, and wear what we want without being afraid of potential harassment or any abuse. However, oftentimes in reality things are not quite that. In fact, certain places may cause a lot of discomfort (especially if we associate them with potentially unpleasant experiences, such as dark and empty parks, a subway full of drunk people, drugged people on the street, and so on). 

And while we may try to rationalize certain experiences and say something to ourselves such as “Why am I having such negative thoughts?”, “Why am I afraid to walk alone at night?”, “What if I come across a bunch of drunk people and there’s nobody else around?”, the truth is this: we’re so bombarded with bad news, weird experiences that people had, our own beliefs and fears, that it’s impossible not to worry about such a serious issue such as (potential) sexual harassment. 

So, taking this into account, here are some thoughts some people have when it comes to sharing places where they feel (un)safe:

  1. Dark places such as subways and parks when it's quiet at night and near pubs where there are drunk people on the streets at night.
  2. Car parks are particularly scary...public spaces after dark or at dusk on your own are not pleasant and I would avoid them.
  3. I do not feel as safe in the evenings, particularly in [the bus station], car parks and streets in the City Centre. I do not feel safe walking back to my car after work now that it is dark at 5pm.
  4. I feel safe on buses except when groups of drunk people get on the bus, such as university sports teams or groups of people returning home on the late night buses from [nearby town].
  5. It is now commonplace for me to bolster my safety by not going to "lonely" places... where possible, not going out alone at night.
  6. After dark I am reluctant to walk or cycle on streets other than those with a number of others who are doing so.
  7. For the most part I feel safe on the streets but I feel unsafe around the [red-light area in Coventry] because I fear - because of previous bad experience - the men's responses to the fact that I am a transgender woman and the increased culture of objectification of women in that area.

Reading these statements probably makes you realize how unsafe the world we live in is. Or in other words, how unsafe people perceive the world to be. 

We’re not here to tell you whether you should agree or disagree with the above-mentioned comments - they’re here to serve only as examples. That said, it’s always advisable for a person to be cautious enough and aware of the things going on nearby as well as the people (especially those “randomly” passing by).

However, we shouldn’t be paranoid or panicking all the time. After all, such behavior can only bring more stress and chaos in our lives. All in all, we should have a discerning eye when it comes to identifying a “potentially dangerous” situation or place, and do our best to get away from it. 

That doesn’t mean we can fully disconnect or protect ourselves from the world, though. In other words, we can’t always predict other people’s actions and behaviors (this especially applies to random strangers in random places prepared to do random things). But when we know we’re constantly trying our best, that's what counts. 

How to approach this? 

  • Do you agree with the statement: guilty until proven innocent? How would that play out in a sexual harassment context? Do you feel it’s the victim’s word against the alleged harasser’s word? 
  • Which public places make you feel unsafe? For instance, is it the same to use the underground during the day and during the night? Is there more “danger” to this during the night? If yes in what way? Also, what difference does it make if you’re a woman? Do women feel more unprotected in such instances? Why? Why not? 
  • What do you usually do if you get uncomfortable with someone’s sexual behavior toward you? Do you try to let them know you’re not willing to play along, or you don’t take any action, and hope they’ll stop? 
  • Have you ever been harassed in a public place? What happened? Were you the only person who was harassed? How was the overall situation resolved? Do you wish for a different outcome? How did that event impact your life? If you’re a woman and were harassed by a man, did this change the way you perceive men in general? For instance, do you feel you may have become a bit distrustful toward the opposite sex? 
  • Have you ever been harassed by someone who’s the same sex as you are? Do you think that’s weird? Or perhaps you think it’s as bad as being harassed by the opposite sex? 
  • Apart from some of the impact and long lasting consequences sexual harassment can have on an inidividual, what are some of the implications for the society as a whole? In other words, what does the presence of sexual harassment say about one society? Do you think trivializing it only further reinforces the issue at hand? How so? 
  • How can one’s society make public places much safer for women and girls of all ages? Also, do you think boys and men feel intimidated by such activity, however, they’re taught they shouldn’t show it or talk about it (out of fear they’ll be perceived as being weak if they do say something about it)? 
  • If you’ve ever witnessed any type of harassment within a public place, you may have needed to provide the authorities with some pieces of information. Were you asked any of the following questions: 
    • What did you hear/see? Can you think of any specific details? When exactly did this happen? What were you doing then? Did you notice anything unusual about the alleged harasser? Their behavior, perhaps? 
    • Can you describe what the harasser looked like? What did he wear? Was there anyone else with them? 
    • Did you have any kind of personal interaction with the harasser? If you did, what exactly did you say? 
    • Do you know any other relevant information at this point? If you find out something, will you contact us? 
    • Was anyone else there with you who can confirm your claims? If they do, do you know if they may have seen/heard something more? 

Famous Quotes About Sexual Harassment 

“Sexual harassment is as difficult to prove as it is to disprove.”

- Kellyanne Conway

“Self respect by definition is a confidence and pride in knowing that your behaviour is both honorable and dignified. When you harass or vilify someone, you not only disrespect them, but yourself also.

Street harassment, sexual violence, sexual harassment, gender-based violence and racism, are all acts committed by a person who in fact has no self respect. 

-Respect yourself by respecting others.” 

- Miya Yamanouchi

“If you see harassment happening, speak up. Being harassed is terrible; having bystanders pretend they don't notice is infinitely worse.”

- Celeste Ng

“If we want to end a culture rampant with harassment, we must listen to the adult women who are speaking out courageously. We must also make room for girls to speak: If we listened, we'd find that many middle schoolers are trying to tell us, 'Me too.'”

- Rachel Simmons

“I remember the exact moment, walking down Tenth Street in Seattle, when I started to see myself through men’s eyes. Horns started honking and I heard men yelling. I looked around to see what was going on. There was nothing. Just me. I was what was going on. I was the reason for the noise. Except for it wasn’t really me that was the reason, it was my body and my face.” 

- Rose McGowan

“And yet, despite the high numbers of girls experiencing sexual harassment in schools, only 12 percent said they ever reported it to an adult. "Some researchers claim that sexual harassment is so common for girls that many fail to recognize it as sexual harassment when it happens," said the AAUW report. A 2014 study, published in Gender & Society, of students in a Midwestern city also found that girls failed to report incidents of sexual harassment in school because they regarded them as "normal." Their lack of reporting was found to stem from girls' fear of being labeled "bad girls" by teachers and administrators, who they felt would view them as provoking how they were treated. They also feared the condemnation of other girls, some of whom were shown to be unsupportive, accusing them of exaggerating or lying. Many girls saw everyday sexual harassment and abuse as "normal" male behavior male behavior and something they had to ignore, endure, or maneuver around.” 

- Nancy Jo Sale

“Actors and writers and adjuncts are always looking for their next job: they find common cause with the female Uber drivers on contracts who have also been unprotected victims of sexual harassment.”

- Alissa Quart

“It is easy to say that if such harassment happens, walk out of your job. But people depend on that job. It is about their livelihood, a question of survival. So while we must encourage victims for coming up with their #MeToo stories, we should not judge women for not sharing their stories.”

- Soni Razdan

“He was saying things inappropriately, insisting on putting my lipstick on with his finger. I was sleeping one night on location and I woke up and he was filming me. I was clothed, but it was a very voyeuristic, terrifying thing to do. … Finally, after three months of complaining, [the producers] called me into my trailer and said, ‘We need to talk to you.’ I thought, ‘Well finally, they’re going to do something about this man who I had to have touching me all day.’ And they said, ‘Your dog left a poop behind the toilet in your dressing room and our janitor had to pick it up. And this is very serious and we can’t have this happen again.’”

- Blake Lively (on being harassed by a makeup artist she was working with)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 

What are some of the consequences of sexual harassment? 

Sexual harassment can be a scary and an intimidating experience. However, many don’t realize that the consequences that people deal with after being harassed can be as difficult and as scary. 

Some of the consequences that many struggle with after experiencing sexual harassment are: 

  • anxiety;
  • depression;
  • sleep disorders (either indulging in too much sleep or experiencing insomnia) and nightmares; 
  • headaches; 
  • weight loss or gain;
  • low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence;
  • shame and guilt; 
  • nausea; 
  • being objectified or gossiped by people;
  • feeling unproductive and unmotivated and having the tendency to procrastinate; 
  • struggling to maintain social relationships; 
  • feeling distrustful of other people (which may lead to isolation and alienation from people);
  • not being able to spend time in the environment where the harassment took place (for instance, if the event took place in the company one works for, then the individual may struggle to go to work or spend time in that environment as they’ll constantly be reminded of the sexual harassment);
  • health impairment; 
  • depression;
  • panic attacks;
  • fatigue; 
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
  • suicidal thoughts; 
  • alcoholism or developing other addictions as a coping mechanism, and so on.

Some victims may experience several of these, others may experience none. Another group of people may have some other consequences. Regardless of what victims may be dealing with, there are ways to get help. 

A lot of sexual harassment victims enagge in cognitive-behavioral therapy, stress management sessions, or consulations with therapists. They also rely on their friends and family support, however, that alone is not enough.

Oftentimes victims think it’s enough to report the event and try self-treatment, however, this may not truly release the shock, the trauma, and help victims deal with the consequences in a safe manner. 

In other words, a lot of times the presence of a professional is needed (at least right after the harassment takes place). Of course, the seriousness of the consequences depends on the seriousness of the sexual harassment that took place. 

What is the Me Too movement? 

The Me Too movement denotes a social movement against sexual harassment and sexual abuse. It allows people to publicly share their sexual harassment/abuse stories. The phrase “Mе Тоо” initially started being used on social media by Tarana Burke. She’s a sexual assault survivor and an acitvist, and is consired to be the founder of the movement. 

She delivered an inspiring speech in Colton Chapel back in 2018, explaining the meaning of the Me Too movement

There are no misconceptions about this movement - that it’s about taking down powerful men. This movement is not a witch hunt. It’s not even about mass disclosure. Me Too is a global community of survivors. It’s a mechanism for action, for empowerment through empathy. It’s about gaining power from knowing there is someone who gets you.

The movement gained momentum after the serious allegations against Harvey Weinsten back in 2017, when individuals started using Me Too with a hashtag (#MeToo) to share their experiences.

At the same time, the actress Alyssa Milano posted on her Twitter the following: "If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote 'Me too' as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem”. 

After millions of social media users started incorporating this hashtag on their profiles, the movement became much more international and also began to spread among other languages. 

Suggestions for Further Reading 

Nobody reads books about sexual harassment just for fun. In fact, if you’re searching for literature on sexual harassment, you’re probably trying to learn something (such as what the probable consequences are after a person has experienced something like this), you’re doing academic research and need information, or you’ve gone through such a traumatic experience and simply wish to find comfort in words. 

Whatever your reason may be, we got your back. There’s tons of sexual harassment literature out there, and this is by all means not an exhaustive list. However, it’s a good place to start. 

So, here are our suggestions for further reading:

  1. She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement, by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey
  1. Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Perspectives, Frontiers, and Response Strategies, edited by Margaret S. Stockdale
  1. Women and Sexual Harassment: A Practical Guide to the Legal Protections of Title VII and the Hostile Environment Claim, by Robert C Berring, and Anja A Chan
  1. Staying in the Game: The Playbook for Beating Workplace Sexual Harassment, by Adrienne Lawrence
  1. Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It, by Kate Harding
  1. Anything for a Hit: An A&R Woman's Story of Surviving the Music Industry, by Dorothy Carvello
  1. The 9 to 5 Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment: Candid Advice from 9 to 5, The National Association of Working Women, by Ellen Bravo and Ellen Cassedy
  1. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, by Bessel van der Kolk
  1. I Never Called It Rape: The Ms. Report on Recognizing, Fighting, and Surviving Date and Acquaintance Rape, by Robin Warshaw
  1. Sexual Harassment in Education and Work Settings: Current Research and Best Practices for Prevention (Women's Psychology), by by Michele A. Paludi (Editor), Jennifer L. Martin (Editor), James E. Gruber (Editor), Susan Fineran (Editor)
  1. Hey, Shorty! A Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools and on the Streets, by Joanne Smith and Mandy Van Deven
  1. Believe Me: How Trusting Women Can Change the World, by Jessica Valenti
  1. Evaluating Sexual Harassment: Psychological, Social, and Legal Considerations in Forensic Examinations, by Clinical Assistant Professor William E Foote and Professor Jane Goodman-Delahunty 

Final Thoughts

Kim Reynolds said: “I believe that victims of sexual harassment must be allowed to tell their story on their time, in their own way.”

And while we may not have such a story to share, we’ve found another way to spread awareness about sexual harassment - by preparing an online course. You can expect to learn a lot more about:

  • how to develop healthy relationships and identity constructive and destructive behaviors (plus being mindful of the cultural context);
  • understanding communication, consent, and context;
  • comparing the “physical” and the “digital” world;
  • rape culture and victim blaming;
  • trust and privacy;
  • details regarding the differences among sexual harasment, sexual assault, and rape;
  • your rights and responsibilities, and what should be done if we witness harassment;
  • where to ask for help, and so on. 

After all, sexual harassment is something that should be discussed and analyzed, and not swept under the carpet with the hope that it will go away. And if we’ve made you realize that sexual harassment is an important issue, and a problem that needs addressing, then we’ve done our job.