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Sexual Harassment

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is when a person’s sexual comments, suggestions or behaviour make another person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated.

This behaviour could include unwanted:

  • Sexual advances such as touching, staring or unwanted requests for a date.
  • Asking for sexual favours.
  • Sexually suggestive jokes.
  • Sexual behaviour aimed at you or in front of you.
  • Comments, gestures or actions of a sexual nature.
  • Displaying unwanted sexual material such as posters or screensavers.
  • Intrusive questions about your private life.

Sexual harassment can happen face-to-face or in writing through SMS, facebook, email or written notes.

Sexual harassment at work or school is illegal in Australia. Everyone has the right to work in a safe environment. Find out more at Lawstuff.

Some sexual harassment may also be considered Sexual Assault. Sexual assault includes any unwanted sexual behaviour that causes humiliation, pain, fear or intimidation. It includes rape, incest, child abuse and unwanted or unwelcome kissing and touching. It also includes behaviour that does not involve actual touching (e.g. forcing someone to watch pornography or masturbation). It is a serious crime. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted you can call 1800 Respect or Kids Helpline for information and support.

What are the affects of Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment can have some serious affects and it can make you feel pretty crappy.

Sexual harassment can bring up a range of emotions making you feel angry, anxious, powerless, embarrassed and/or humiliated. If you have been sexually harassed at work, it’s not your fault. You have the right to feel safe at work, and the right to say something if you don’t.

Sexual harassment at work can also affect your working life. It may make you less productive, skip days at work, feel unsatisfied in your job or stop working all together.

Sexual harassment can also cause mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. If you are suffering from any mental health issues you can call Beyond Blue for help.

If you have been sexually harassed at work you should tell someone you trust about it. This will make you feel better and they will be able to support you. Let a parent, teacher or another adult you trust know so that they can help you resolve the situation.  Read more about what you can do if you’ve been sexually harassed here.

If you are not sure who to tell or what to do you can call 1800 Respect or Kids Helpline for help.