Knowing that nearly 8 in 10 women will be the target of sexual harassment at some point during their lifetime is a horrifying and infuriating reality. Falling prey to a harasser is always a disconcerting experience; racy looks, catcalling, obscene remarks, unwelcome advances, physical contact, or gestures all qualify as sexual harassment and are punishable by law. This begs the question: How should one act when faced with an ill-intentioned harasser, whether on the street, at the local coffee shop, or in the workplace?
This guide will provide a number of practical tips to help women protect themselves and avert instances of sexual harassment in the future.
Let Your Voice be Heard
For starters, let your voice be heard. In fact, harassers mostly act on the silence and passivity of their victims. While sexual harassment takes many forms, when you don’t react or fail to address a particular situation, this will often encourage offenders to become even more vulgar and suggestive. Don’t be afraid to confront your harasser. You are never at fault. Regardless of the context, it’s crucial to speak out, let the person know that you’re not comfortable, and signify that they should stop their behavior immediately. Nevertheless, don’t debase yourself to your harasser or attempt to escalate the situation.
Sign Up for a Class
One of the most effective ways to defend yourself against a physically threatening harasser is with good old self-defense. While men may have superior physical stature, they can fall or be incapacitated just as easily, provided you know what to target (namely the eyes, neck, and groin area). As such, enrolling in a special training course will familiarize you with self-defense techniques to help you ensure your safety and protect your physical integrity. With sexual harassment awareness and prevention on the rise, some quick online research will enable you to find a certified self-defense class in your local area.
Glimpse into a woman’s purse, every so often, you’ll find them carrying some kind of device to protect themselves in case they cross paths with a bothersome or aggressive individual. Now, for those who cannot directly fight off their harasser, a compact bottle of pepper spray is a must-have; you’d rather have it and not need it than the opposite. Likewise, the taser or stun gun has proven an effective weapon of choice to incapacitate and ward off attackers, giving you time to run away to safety and find assistance. It’s also not uncommon for many to have a gadget that sends an instantaneous location alert to a relative or friend in the event of danger.
Document the Incidents and Keep Records
Workplace sexual harassment is a reality for thousands of women, regardless of their status or occupation. Adding to the already existing labor discrimination and salary gap, many of them will be the target of unwanted advances, sexual favors remarks, or even some forms of blackmail. Now, whether the harassment is from a staff member, colleague, manager, or the employer himself, it’s imperative to keep a detailed record of any incident. Note down the circumstances, date, who the person is, and what they said or did to you. If this turns out to be a pattern, you’ll be able to put together a strong case to press charges, claim your rights, and make sure the person is sanctioned. Consult with a specialized lawyer for the best course of action.
Report to the Authorities
While there are legal measures in place to help protect victims and sentence offenders, many women will shy away from going to the police for fear of backlash or ‘not being believed.’ Whenever you fall prey to a sexual harasser, always go to the authorities, as soon as possible. Provide as many details as you can, and give a precise account of the incident, no matter how crude or brazen the situation was. In doing so, you may provide the police with valuable leads to arresting and putting away a serial sexual harasser.
Lastly, but importantly, feel confident in your ability to speak up about what happened. The best way to overcome your ordeal is to share them with those around you; talking about it will take away the power it has over you and allow you to recover and move on. As such, speak openly with your family, close friends, or seek help from a women’s support group or a professional therapist.
Ultimately, sexual harassment is a rampant plague. Around the world, millions of innocent women endure incivilities, intimidations, and verbal and physical violence against which they often feel powerless. Collectively, we can make a change by spreading awareness and ascertaining women’s rights. Until that happens and women stop being the victims of constant harassment, this guide will have hopefully provided you with useful knowledge to help defend yourself against harassers, regardless of the situation or context.
Author: Allen Brown