Some victims of sexual harassment refuse to report the incident due to embarrassment or fear of retaliation. In other cases, victims may doubt whether their experience falls under sexual harassment. They may think they are merely overthinking or incorrectly interpreting a statement or action. This is especially true for psychological sexual harassment victims. This is why it is essential to recognize what actions and statements qualify as such.
Understanding the general scope of sexual harassment
Generally, sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances and favors. In some cases, the harasser threatens termination or demotion upon the victim if they refuse to engage in sexual acts with them. But these are not the only forms of harassment. If your supervisor or coworker’s conduct checks all the things in the list below, then it is sexual harassment:
- The conduct explicitly or implicitly affects your employment
- The conduct gets in the way of you performing your work tasks properly
- The conduct creates a hostile work environment for you
If these behaviors are present in your workplace, whether you are a victim or a witness, it is vital to report the same to your human resources department or the local civil rights and employment protection agency.
Shedding light on psychological harassment
It is a wide misconception that sexual harassment requires physical contact. However, it is possible to experience harassment without the harasser laying a finger on you. While psychological harassment is not as easily recognizable as the physical type, there are ways to detect it. Psychological harassment usually involves hostile and offending statements that may cause a victim pain, humiliation and insult.
In these cases, victims are in a vulnerable position. If not acted upon, it may cause long-term symptoms, such as anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder. Moreover, it will continue exposing the workplace to predators who will likely move on to their next target.