Healthy lives for young people
Abuse

What is sexual harassment?

This can happen to anyone, regardless of gender or sexuality; and could be from someone of the same or different sex. It doesn’t matter if it was ‘banter’ or if they didn’t mean it, it is still sexual harassment if they made you feel this way.

This unwanted sexual behaviour can happen anywhere such as at school, on the bus or at work and can be a ‘one-off’ or repeated behaviour. Sexual harassment can appear in many different forms, these commonly include:

  • someone making sexual comments, jokes or gestures
  • spreading sexual rumours about you
  • staring or leering at your body
  • calling you names such as slut and tart
  • inappropriate touching without your consent
  • showing sexual photos or videos at school or work
  • offering rewards in return for sexual favours

In a report on street harassment (2018) Plan UK reported that 66% of girls in the UK have experienced sexual attention or sexual or physical contact in a public place.

Experiencing sexual harassment can be very upsetting. It can often cause a lot of distress and can lead to headaches, anxiety, depression, problems sleeping and eating, and loss of self-confidence.

Ways to deal with sexual harassment

If you have been sexually harassed, it is not your fault and no one should have to put up with it. We have listed a few steps below which could help you to try and put a stop to it:

Signal that it is not OK

Send the message that it is not OK. For example, try not to nervously laugh or smile when the harassment is happening.

Ask them to stop

If you feel comfortable doing so, tell the person that you don’t like what they are doing and you want it to stop. If you don’t feel safe confronting them, speak to someone else who can help.

Make a note of what happens

Note when and where the sexual harassment happens.

Support others

If you’ve noticed it’s happening to another person as well, you can try and support each other in reporting it.

Report it

Either your school or HR department at work will have to follow up and investigate your report.

If you are being sexually harassed at work or by your landlord you are protected by the Equality Act 2010 which categorises sexual harassment under unlawful discrimination. This also includes if you are being treated badly due to your reaction to the harassment. Follow the links below for further help and support:

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