What to Do when Someone is Sexually Harassing You


#1 Speak up.

  This is a truth I didn’t fully understand until I joined a new job and on my first day of work, a co-worker came up behind me and rubbed his erection against my back while he said, “ooh, you have a nice butt!” This happened to me once more that night when he came into my office and tried to kiss me. After realizing what was happening, I spoke up about it immediately. He apologized profusely and told the others in the office what had happened — he was fired soon after because it was too big an incident for him to hide from HR.

If you’re being harassed by someone at work, a great first step is to talk to your boss. Your company may have an anti-harassment policy or have training on how to handle such a situation. If the perpetrator is a peer and not your manager, it might help to talk to your supervisor about it as well.

#2 If speaking up doesn’t work, you can also get help from outside your company.

   If you’re not comfortable talking within your own organization, you can look into an external organization that provides resources for sexual harassment. There are several organizations that specialize in helping victims of sexual harassment. From a legal perspective, we work closely with many of the local law schools and their student-run legal clinics. We also have a network of local anti-violence agencies who can provide services to help you recover from your abuse and advocate on your behalf if you so choose.

If you need help, please contact us at info@ocasea.org or call us at (949) 553-5240.

We look forward to your call OCASEA, Remember that their office hours are only from 0800 to 1230 PST Mon – Fri

#3 If speaking up still doesn’t work, raise your hand.

   If anyone is sexually harassing you at work, you may not know how serious the situation is or how to handle it. This can come in two forms: 1) it is an everyday occurrence where no one believes you are being harassed, or 2) it’s so bad that no one will help you report it and they don’t believe you deserve help. In the first case, there isn’t a lot that can be done until someone comes out and reports what is happening. However, in the second case, there are many people at work who may not realize someone’s situation. If you know anyone who would be willing to help you, stand up and 2B1 (that’s “buddy”) with you when it happens and reports it to the right people.

#4 If speaking up doesn’t work or if you don’t know how to report it or don’t have any allies who can speak up with you — walk away from your desk and go talk to your boss.

  If you know that your boss is being sexually harassed and you know how to report it and you are having a hard time getting help from other parties, please speak with your supervisor. Sometimes talking to a leader of the company can help a lot in these situations. It’s never too late to bring someone’s behavior up; it takes courage and strength to do this, but it is something that needs to be done if there is no end in sight. It’s also required by law. If there was ever a time someone had the power to fire someone or give them negative performance feedback, this is one of those times.

#5 If you are the victim, stand up and say something.

   Standing up against someone who is sexually harassing you will not make it any easier on you in the future. However, there is also value in letting the person know that their behavior can’t continue to be tolerated and that it’s causing a lot of pain for both parties involved.

  In my personal experience as well as other people who have been harassed by coworkers at work, standing up has made me feel a lot more empowered. It has also helped stop someone from continuing their sexual harassment because I was speaking out. If there is no chance of retribution, then the behavior will continue because it can.

(9/3/17 update)

This day’s article from OCASEA is not relevant to this blog post but I felt like I had to add this one. It’s an email I received today from a friend in Japan and it shows me how these types of organizations can be used by many people across the globe. Thank you for sharing with me, Eriko!

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