If a sexual advance has not been consented to, then it is sexual harassment. Whether these advancements are unwanted requests for sexual favors or acts of sexual intimidation, sexual harassment is an incredibly serious issue that can impact any and all aspects of social, academic, emotional, family and sexual life. So, it is incredibly important to be able to identify and understand sexual harassment in order to prevent it from happening and care for yourself or others if you are a survivor of sexual harrassment.
First of all, remind yourself that you are not the one doing something wrong. Harasser's often try to emotionally manipulate people into thinking they are doing something wrong through forms of gaslighting.
Unfortunately, harassment and emotional manipulation are difficult to escape by just saying “no I’m not interested.” So, we have developed some possible tools to use if you are in an uncomfortable situation.
This could be something explicit such as “I need help” but could also be more hidden if you don’t want the harasser to know you are vulnerable and seeking help. A code word/phrase could be shared amongst friends and family. If you were to say this code word/phrase, on the phone for example, the recipient would understand that you are in trouble and can help you. Also, if the harasser knows that you are on the phone with someone, it might deter them from pursuing you further. Here are some ideas of code phrases:
We know this sounds counterintuitive. For your whole life you’ve been told that lying is bad and we should strive to be honest in all aspects of our lives. Well, if you are in an uncomfortable situation and you are being harassed it is 100% okay to lie especially if you are feeling pressured and you are scared about what their reaction would be if you tried to say no or stop them. Some good ‘lies’ could be:
You probably have either sent a nude and if you haven’t yourself, you likely know someone who has. Sexting or sending nudes is one of the most popular forms of sexual expression in the 21st century. You probably have either sent a nude and if you haven’t yourself, you likely know someone who has. Unfortunately, traditional sex education programs fail to teach healthy sexting practices and how to identify unhealthy practices.
Yes! You should think about sexting and nudes just as you would having sex. Just because you are separated by a phone, does not mean that consent does not apply. This also means that unsolicited nude images and sharing nude images are forms of sexual harassment.
When you take a nude, you are sharing an intimate picture with one person - not their whole friend group, not their siblings, not social media platforms - just that one person. It is a violation of trust to share that image and it is sexual harassment.
The way that nudes culture changes is if you hold yourself and those around you accountable for their actions. If one of your friends sends someone’s pictures around - call them out. It is never cool or attractive to partake in those kinds of group chat locker-room conversations.
First of all, we wanted to say that we are incredibly sorry that you were harassed or know someone who has been harrassed. It is never your fault. If you have been sexually harassed, it is important to take care of your mental health and if you choose to, explore legal options.
Check out this link that can help you navigate laws surrounding sexual harassment by zip code.
RAINN is a national organization that works to support survivors of sexual harrassment, rape and assault. Along with an abundance of resources, RAINN also has a hotline made specifically to support survivors. The number for the hotline is: 800-656-4673
Download the headspace app to try out some guided meditations. Meditating has been proven to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, panic and distress.
Similar to meditation, journaling has been proven to decrease anxiety and create a sense of control over an overwhelming experience. Some good journal prompts related to sexual harassment and healing include:
It can be really helpful to reach out to your school’s counselor or a trusted teacher about your experience if the person who harassed you goes to your school. By going to a trusted teacher or a counselor, you are seeking the help you need and hopefully preventing this from happening to someone else. Additionally, they can help you navigate schoolwork and the trauma you are experiencing by talking to your teachers and helping you come up with a plan. This means that you won’t fall behind in school.
Open up to a friend about your experience and ask for advice on how to manage the situation moving forward. If the person that harassed you is also known to the friend, you will have someone who can vouch for you and protect you in uncomfortable situations.
One of the best ways to process a traumatic experience, such as sexual harassment, is to talk with a mental health professional or join a support group. If you are interested in starting therapy, speak to a trusted adult and/or your doctor about finding a good therapist for you. Another way to find a therapist is to call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s treatment referral helpline at (800)-662-4357, and they can refer you to a mental health professional in your area. You can also use the administration’s locator tool to find a local treatment center.