Sexual harassment is a form of bullying. One person uses physical, verbal or psychological tactics of sexual nature to make the other person feel smaller. Workplaces can be full of power plays, and sexual harassment is one of the worst kinds.
Anyone can suffer from sexual harassment at work. While no one is exempt, some people are more likely to suffer than others. For example, immigrants without the right to work, young workers, people with mental health issues, or working alone are all common targets. Anyone harassing them may feel they can get away with it because the person will be too afraid of losing their job or of people not believing them to speak up.
Sexual harassment is a way to exert power over another person. It could be to persuade them to do something, such as when a boss offers a pay rise in return for sexual favors. Or it could be to control someone a person feels threatened by.
For example, male executives may make sexual comments about a talented female colleague they are afraid will overtake them to belittle her and “keep her in check.” Someone with racist views might inappropriately touch a female Muslim colleague or a transgender worker in the hope of making them so uncomfortable they quit.
What does getting sexually harassed say about you?
Harassers and their defense teams often portray the victim as somehow responsible for the action that happened to them. They may accuse them of dressing provocatively or being flirty. Yet, the only person responsible for sexual harassment is the perpetrator and perhaps your employer if they did not take adequate action to stop it. Sexual harassment is illegal, and there are legal avenues available to stop it and claim compensation.