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How to help a co-worker who is being sexually harassed

The only individual responsible for sexual harassment is the perpetrator, but everyone else has the power to protect one another. Bystanders can help victims be heard and safe. In a workplace setting, you can help your co-workers stand up to misconduct.

You have a lot of power as a bystander and witness to sexual harassment in the workplace. Here are some tips for assisting victims of sexual harassment by intervening. 

Talk to the victim and ask certain questions

If you see a co-worker dealing with an uncomfortable situation, one of the best things you can do is simply walk up and start a conversation. Ask the victim if he or she is okay. Be a listening ear and let him or her know that you are there to provide support

Speak out against the behavior

In certain circumstances, it may be a good idea for you to rebuke the perpetrator, especially if the victim feels powerless. You can let the harasser know that his or her comments or behavior are not appropriate or acceptable. Depending on the situation, you may want to voice a stern retort immediately following the harassment or take the perpetrator aside after the fact to inform him or her why it is offensive. 

Educate yourself on gender inequality and harassment

Everyone can learn more about sexual harassment. Becoming more aware of what types of sexual harassment are illegal and what situations are most common will help you recognize when something wrong occurs. There are plenty of online resources to gain more insight into this topic. 

Serve as a witness

If you see sexual harassment take place at your job, you are not only a bystander but also a witness. You may play an important role if the victim decides to file a complaint or lawsuit about the situation. In order to be a helpful witness, write down the details of anything you see so you can corroborate the victim's testimony.

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