Skip to content

What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is any unwanted or unwelcome sexual attention.  This can come in many forms including but not limited to notes, sexual touches, looks, and/or comments.   If someone is giving you sexual attention that makes you feel uncomfortable, chances are it is sexual harassment. It can happen anywhere but there are special laws protecting all of us from sexual harassment at school and work.  It is the responsibility of these places to keep us safe.

Sexual harassment can affect anyone, of any gender. You or someone you know may have been sexually harassed, or participated in sexual harassment.  We are responsible for how we treat others.  Everyone has the right to be safe!

Sexual Harassment vs. Flirting

Both sexual harassment and flirting are types of sexual attention, so how can I tell the difference?  When two people are flirting they are sharing sexual attention and are both happy.

Sexual harassment is when one person gives sexual attention to someone who doesn’t want that attention.

If someone doesn’t want sexual attention, they might respond in many ways like:

  • ignoring
  • walking away
  • facial expressions
  • telling you to leave them alone
  • avoidance…

When you are choosing to share sexual attention with someone, if they don’t let you know they like it, STOP!

Consequences of Sexual Harassment

Your school has a sexual harassment policy, and it could be a good idea to check it out. Most schools have consequences that range from a written warning and on-campus assignment or detention to suspension and expulsion. A sexual harassment charge can also follow you through school on your permanent  record.  Most importantly, sexual harassment can really hurt someone.  Make sure that sexual attention you share is wanted by the other person.  If not, you run the risk of hurting them, and getting charged with sexual harassment. 

Sexual harassment is in the eye of the beholder.  This means the person receiving the attention decides if they want it or not.

What to do

If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual harassment, you can do something about it:

  • Support your friends.
  • Find someone at school or work to talk to about it.
  • Use assertive words and body language to let the harasser know that you don’t like the attention.
  • Keep track of what happens.
  • Know that your school or workplace has an obligation to keep you safe from sexual harassment.
  • Don’t participate in sexual harassment.
  • Stand up for others.
  • Call us for support and information.
  • Remember, it’s not your fault if someone else chooses to hurt you!