Sexual Harassment: What Should You Know?

Sexual harassment is defined as unwanted conduct of a sexual nature that has the effect or purpose of violating a person’s dignity, or the creation of a hostile, degrading, intimidating, offensive, or humiliating environment for them. Sexual harassment covers suggestive or indecent remarks, demands or requests for sex, unwanted touching, and dissemination of pornography.

Generally, it is depicted as an ambiguous or murky area of the law, on the grounds that it is hard to tell the difference between a humiliating remark and a bit of banter. It can happen in the workplace or school environment.

The following are legal definitions of sexual violence as well as other related acts. These terms may help you understand what exactly you or someone you know went through. If you or the other person went through something that does not fit in the categories mentioned below, it does not imply that the person was not harmed.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault signifies any unwanted sexual contact like fondling, touching, groping, or rape. It can happen with any person regardless of their gender, age, race, socioeconomic status, religion, or sexual orientation. In the USA:

· 1 out of 6 females and 1 out of 33 males reported undergoing a completed or attempted rape at some point in their lives

·   In Massachusetts, more than 4,400 adults and adolescents are harassed each year, and that means one person in every 2 hours.

·   Every 2 minutes an American is sexually assaulted

·   Despite these figures, sexual harassment is amongst those crimes which are the most under-reported with only 40% being reported.

Annoying Phone Calls

Calling a person or causing someone to be telephoned repeatedly for the purpose of annoying, molesting, or harassing that individual, regardless of whether the conversation ensues or whether obscene or indecent language is used can be construed as sexual harassment. Unwanted phone calls can induce fear in the person and affect their life drastically.

Criminal Harassment

This means malicious or willful engagement in a series of acts or patterns of conduct over a time period focused on a particular person that annoys or alarms that person and ultimately causes notable emotional distress.


Stalking refers to malicious engagements over a time period focused on a particular person that annoys or alarms them and causes them to be afraid of their well-being and safety. A person can stalk by instant messaging, calling, following, emailing, or writing to the victim.


This is non-consensual or forced sexual penetration of any part of the body by an object or another body part. An individual can be forced to enter into sexual intercourse through physical restraints, physical violence, and/or threats.

Sexual Abuse

The term is associated with sports doctor Larry Nassar’s trial. It is used to describe inappropriate sexual behavior towards children and not adults. It can vary from touching the victim sexually or forcing the victim to touch the perpetrator sexually.

The Bottom Line

It is noteworthy that each person has different coping mechanisms and takes varying periods of time to deal with the trauma. Here is the list of the most common reactions to sexual harassment:

  • Self-blame, shame, guilt
  • Sense of susceptibility
  • Anger
  • Avoidance
  • Fear (of assailant, of people, etc.)
  • Numbness
  • Loss of control in their life
  • Distrust
  • Mood swings
  • Re-experiencing the event

If you feel you or someone close to you has been sexually harassed then you must consult an experienced attorney to ensure that you receive justice and the person responsible for your emotional or physical condition gets punished

Written by Johnny Steele