Not everything happens immediately. Sometimes it starts with an innocent look or touch, some suggestive comment, or an inappropriate joke. At first, these situations may not become bigger, or we simply try to ignore them. Still, we must remember that sexual harassment does not always occur abruptly and that it is unacceptable in whatever way it manifests itself. We should not feel uncomfortable in our workplace, nor should we “just ignore it,” as this situation can become more complex, even reaching sexual abuse in some cases.
You may even feel that you put yourself in this situation, but the truth is that no one chooses to experience sexual harassment in their work environment. You do not have to feel diminished or humiliated when you are just trying to continue your work.
To function in our workspace, we must be in an environment where we are allowed to grow because of our abilities and not because of threats or intimidation. Unfortunately, being a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace is much more common than we think. Many women are forced to live these horrendous situations and end up being victims of brutal acts, but although women make up the highest percentage of victims, many men also suffer from sexual harassment. That is why we should not be afraid to report these inappropriate actions done by co-workers and employers.
Sexual harassment at work is something that many employees experience daily and is not usually reported to the authorities for fear, either of being fired and losing their financial stability or because of the shame they may feel after living in such a delicate situation. But you must understand that you are only the victim who has been done wrong.
Some signs that you are suffering from workplace harassment are:
- Unwanted physical contact, for example, hugging, kissing, touching, pinching, and so on.
- Pranks, noises, jokes, or advances of a sexual nature that you are the target of. They can refer to your gender, your sexual experience, your appearance, among others.
- “Quid Pro Quo.” From the Latin for “something in exchange for something,” it refers to an unwanted request by the employer that carries with it threats to the employee’s work if it is rejected.
If at any time you feel uncomfortable due to inappropriate comments, you should report the situation according to your company’s guidelines, and if it is not corrected, you should talk to a lawyer about your options. You should not feel that there is something that has prompted the wrongdoing on the attacker’s part, as the victim is never at fault.
We all have the right to work in an environment that makes us feel safe.