Given the number of news stories that keep surfacing about sexual harassment in different industries throughout the country, sexual harassment is still a big problem in the nation’s workforce.
Are you prepared to handle it, if it happens to you? Being the victim of sexual harassment doesn’t mean you have to be powerless. By thinking about how to respond to inappropriate acts or comments in advance, you may be able to take charge of the situation and stop the harasser in his or her tracks.
Here are ways you can respond when confronted by sexual harassment at work:
1. The silent treatment
This isn’t the same as ignoring the harasser. Instead, you simply stop, fix your gaze on the harasser after he or she has said or done something appropriate and say nothing. This is especially effective if the harasser thinks that he or she is amusing. By refusing to laugh the statements off, you’re forcing the harasser to deal with the uncomfortable situation he or she caused — instead of carrying that load yourself.
2. Warnings and reminders
Experts also say that the phrase “MeToo” can be used to put someone on notice that their actions are unacceptable. You can say something like, “Do you really think that’s an appropriate thing to say in the MeToo era?” That’s a good way to encourage someone to rethink what they say or do. You can also simply say, “Stop. That makes me uncomfortable.”
3. Joining forces
If you’re the victim of sexual harassment, the odds are good that you aren’t alone. Talk to your co-workers and find out if they’ve experienced similar problems with the harasser. If they have, you may want to report his or her actions to the human resources department together. It may be easier to find your voice in a group — and it is harder to dismiss the complaints of several victims at once.
Sexual harassment at work can be devastating — to your health, to your emotional stability and to your career. If you’ve been victimized by sexual harassment on the job, an attorney can advise you about your options and rights.