People who are in a position of power, such as a boss, political leader, teacher, or police officer, are required to follow the law just like everyone else. But many of them seem to forget this whenever they choose to sexually harass those who they spend time with. That is mainly because they falsely believe that they won’t get in trouble since they hold so much authority over others. But the truth of the matter is that these people are actually held to a higher level of legal standards because of the power and responsibility that they have. So whenever they attempt to make other people uncomfortable by their actions, they need to be held accountable. Unfortunately, the victims of harassers like this are often too afraid to do so because they don’t think that anyone will believe them though. They may also have concerns that they could face retaliation for reporting the matter. All hope is not lost though. There are some simple steps that can be taken by anyone of any age, sex, religion, or nationality who is struggling with sexual harassment from a person in a position of power.
Check the Organization’s Policies
Nearly every organization has some type of written policy that defines what is and isn’t acceptable behavior for those who work for them. So if a victim has any doubts regarding whether or not the actions being taken by a person in a position of power are truly a form of sexual harassment, this is the best place to start. Having a copy of this information is also handy because it can be given to an attorney to use in the proceedings against the harasser and the organization.
Speak Up to the Harasser
By law, sexual harassment occurs whenever a person has made it clear to another individual that they are not interested in their sexual advances. If the advances persist or worsen, then a case can be made to begin legal proceedings against the harasser. What this means is that a sexual harassment victim cannot stay quiet in the matter because the harasser could possibly use this as a defense to be able to say that the victim enjoyed their advances since they didn’t say anything against them.
Keep a Record
Each inappropriate sexual advance, innuendo, threat, or touch that a victim receives should be recorded in a small ledger that is kept in a safe place where the harasser won’t find it. Dates and times need to be included along with the information. And it also helps to make notes of anyone who might have witnessed the sexual harassment so that they can potentially be called to testify if need be.
Report the Issue
While it may seem a little scary, it is important to report the sexual harassment to the supervising party of the person. For a student who is being sexually harassed by a teacher, that would mean that they need to speak to the school’s principal or superintendent. A citizen who is sexually harassed by a police officer would need to talk to the chief of the police department that he or she works for. And an employee in this situation might have to speak to the manager of the human resources department. Notes regarding the conversation should be taken.
Leave the Situation
As a last resort, it may be necessary to temporarily withdraw yourself from the situation until it is brought under control or the harasser is removed from their position of authority over you. If the sexual harassment is severe or persistent enough to warrant this type of action, it is crucial that you speak to an attorney as quickly as possible though. That way, they can help ensure your safety with preventative legal actions if you desire to return to the school, company, or other organization later on.