When we have been put through something difficult to even talk about, it is very easy to spiral into a rabbit hole full of doubt, fear and confusion. We often aren’t calm enough to figure out what the first thing is to do in these situations.
Let me get to the straight the point for you. If you are facing sexual harassment, especially in the workplace, here are some realistic ways that you can deal with these situations:
1. Make it known
First, we must express clearly to our harasser that they have made us feel uncomfortable. Give a direct NO, if they ask for sexual favours. Be firm. It’s not the time to be polite. Don’t give them any reason to say that they made an “innocent” mistake in reading your response. If you do not have the courage to go up to them in person, craft a text message or send them an email. This can also be used as evidence, especially if your harasser replies with something the proves your case even more.
2. Gather evidence
It is one of the most important things to do when trying to expose a harasser. Start recording down dates, times, places and names of people present when the incidences took place. Save all cyber correspondence you have with them. If possible, get colleagues or friends to be alert for whenever your harasser is physically near you, so they they can make themselves a witness. Better yet, get them to record videos.
3. Go up your chain of command
If speaking to your harasser changes nothing, the next thing you could do, is tell your boss or manager. If they are the reason for your situation, go to Human Resources, the CEO and so on. Provide them with the evidence you gathered. Try your best to avoid making your case reliant on a “he said she said” basis. Making an official complaint with your company gives you the chance to leave a paper trail. This is to help you prove that you’ve been suffering for awhile and not just randomly trying to accuse someone out of nowhere.
4. Make a police report
Sometimes, your evidence just won’t cut it, or the people in your company aren’t on your side. This is when you should turn to the police, especially if you feel like you are unable to continue with your way of life peacefully. Be prepared to answer questions by the police as accurately as you can. Provide them with any evidence that you have. They will assess the situation and see if they have grounds for an arrest. Unfortunately, they cannot make an arrest unless there is an actual threat or violation of the law. Even if they do have grounds for an arrest, it is still also up to a judge to rule whether your harasser will be charged as guilty or not. Without enough evidence, it is possible for your harasser to walk away scot-free.
5. Get a protection order
What we can also do in that situation, is to consult a lawyer and apply for a protection order. This only applies if you feel physically or verbally threatened and unsafe in any way. When you have a protection order against someone, it then becomes punishable by law if that person comes near you, contacts you or does anything to make you feel threatened or uncomfortable. If this person does breach the order, you must then make a police report and then it will be dealt with by the court. Your harasser could be fined up to $5,000 or face imprisonment. The application must be filed with the District Court and then served to your harasser. After that, a hearing date will be set where both parties can be present. In some cases, an expedited hearing date without the harasser can be set.
I encourage you to try your very best to put in action these tips, step by step. Treat it like a checklist of things to do, even while your mind is running wild with apprehension. You’ll eventually find your way.
For a more in-depth review, don’t forget to check out our Spotlight video in the link below!
Article by Rachel Wan for NOC’s Spotlight.