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Sexual Harassment

Sexual violence covers a wide continuum that includes sexual harassment.  This is when someone uses words or actions of a sexual nature that make the other person feel intimidated, humiliated, or uncomfortable.  Sometimes perpetrators minimize their behavior as not a big deal or try to pass it off as a joke.  That’s just a way of justifying inappropriate behavior.  It’s really about the way that the behavior is perceived rather than about the intent of the perpetrator.  Every person is entitled to live, work and study in an environment that is free of sexual harassment, including unwelcomed comments or actions based on gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation directed at an individual or group.  This can include sexist remarks, brushing up against the body, inappropriate touching, leering or ogling, and questions or comments about someone’s sex life, among others. 

It also includes:

 

Sexual harassment can also be minimized in workplaces because some employers may claim that they don’t want to blow things out of proportion or expect the two individuals to deal with the issue directly.  Many people believe that it’s part of life and individuals should just learn to deal with it.  The issues of power, intimidation and suppression often make situations complex and difficult to confront.  But sexual harassment can profoundly impact a person physically, emotionally, socially, economically, and can negatively impact professional or academic performance and potential.  The only thing that will really make a difference is for us to call people out on their behavior when we see sexual harassment around us, and to support victims by listening compassionately and without judgment and helping to link them to workplace, school or community professionals who can help. 

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