Here’s How and When to Call out Sexual Harassment If It Happens to You

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Updated on October 11, 2017 at 4:30PM EST:

By now, you’ve surely heard about the numerous sexual assault accusations against Harvey Weinstein. The list of celebrities accusing Weinstein of rape and assault is getting longer each day, but this form of abuse does not only happen to celebrities or women in the media industry.

Every day, women around the world face sexual harassment and assault, whether it be in the workplace, at home, or on the street. That’s why we felt that it was an appropriate time to resurface this very important reminder about how, exactly, to call out sexual harassment when it happens to you.

Original story published on June 15, 2017 at 4PM EST: 

We interrupt your regularly scheduled sex column to bring you a more serious topic you may be seeing in the media, hearing about at work and school, or experiencing in your life. With so many cases of sexual harassment brought to light, the public is finally becoming more aware of an issue that many of us have faced for a very long time. This is leading to more open discussion, as as well as opportunities to educate folks on what sexual harassment looks like.

By definition, sexual harassment is any and all unwelcome sexual advances or bullying of a sexual nature, and it can happen anywhere, whether it’s at your job, school, or even on the street. The perpetrator can be any gender and can be a friend, stranger or someone in a position of power.

Rainn.org explains that some forms of sexual harassment include:

  • Making conditions of employment dependent on sexual favors
  • Physical acts of sexual assault
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Verbal harassment of a sexual nature
  • Unwanted touching or physical contact
  • Unwelcome sexual advances

The bottom line is this: If you’re being made to feel uncomfortable by someone saying inappropriately sexual things to you or doing things of that nature, whether in person or online, this is wrong, and you have a right to protect yourself.

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So, when do you call sexual harassment out? As quickly as possible. This will, of course, depend on your individual situation, but generally, the sooner you do it after the incident takes place, the better. This makes the offender aware that their behavior is inappropriate. If you’re reporting it, it can help if you take action to document it immediately. If the harassment is happening online via email or social media, by all means, screenshot the interaction for reference.

How do you call sexual harassment out? This depends on the severity of the situation as well as the resources you have at hand. If we’re talking about cat-calling, using sexist language you’re not okay with, or someone sending you or showing you something you deem obscene, let the offender. If for some reason they aren’t aware that their behavior could come across as unacceptable, you’ve just told them.

If the harassment is happening at work or school, please go to the authorities and report it. You can also file a report with your local law enforcement. Bring a friend for support. And if someone in your life is experiencing sexual harassment, be the friend who goes with them. Validate their feelings and support them. Sexual harassment is real, and it’s time to speak up out about it.

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