Sexual Harassment

Violation of Personal Boundaries: Where do we draw the line?

When does…

  • A look become a leer?
  • A touch become a grope?
  • A joke become a taunt?
  • A tease become harassment?

What is Sexual Harassment?

  • Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual or gender-based behavior (verbal or physical), either involving use of a position of authority to obtain sexual favors or amounting to severe or pervasive conduct and creating a hostile work or academic environment.
  • Sexual harassment is gender-based discrimination, unwanted sexual attention, and sexual coercion.
  • Sexual harassment is about power, coercion, intimidation and aggression; not courtship, social attractiveness or romantic interest.
  • Sexual harassment can occur between individuals of different sexes or the same sex. Even though sexual harassment is often directed towards women, men can also be the recipients of this type of harassment either from other men or women.
  • Factors to consider in deciding if sexual harassment has occurred: context, duration, frequency, and severity of the offensive behavior.
  • Sexual harassment can occur between students, between a faculty/staff member and a student or between a student worker and a supervisor. Whatever the relationship, sexual harassment is wrong and no one should have to tolerate this behavior. Name it, report it, get help!

Two Types of Sexual Harassment

Quid Pro Quo or "This for That"

The harasser uses their position of authority in an attempt to obtain sexual favors in exchange for employment or academic opportunities (such as hiring, promotions, grades, or recommendations).

Hostile Environment

Severe or pervasive unwelcome sex-based conduct that creates a hostile work or academic environment which is threatening, intimidating and offensive. Typically this involves a repeated pattern of sexually offensive comments and/or behaviors. 

Examples of Behaviors that are Offensive and Discriminatory

  • Unwelcome touching and hugging
  • Sexist and insulting graffiti, jokes and cartoons, often denigrating women
  • Objectification of body part and inappropriate reference to sexual situations
  • Obscene telephone calls or messages (voicemail, email, or written)
  • Lewd remarks, catcalls, or whistles
  • Inappropriate invitations or gifts of a sexual nature
  • "Accidentally" brushing sexual parts of the body, inappropriate grabbing, fondling, kissing
  • Indecent exposure or exposure to pornographic pictures you did not agree to view
  • Soliciting sexual services
  • Coerced sexual intercourse or sexual assault
  • Invasion of one's personal space making the person feel uncomfortable
  • Rating members of the opposite sex, derogatory statements or sexual slurs
  • Stalking—repeatedly watching or following someone, communication via phone calls, email or other means that seem obsessive and create fear and intimidation

How Can You Help End Sexual Harassment?

  • Speak up! — If a comment, joke or picture makes you feel uncomfortable let the person know that in your presence it is unacceptable to put anyone down based on gender.
  • Name the Behavior — Don't become a victim by accepting this type of behavior.
  • Be More Than a Bystander — Speak up to show your disapproval of the behavior. Avoid a "boys will be boys" attitude. Harassment creates an uncomfortable environment for everyone.
  • Demand That the Harassment Stop — Hold the harasser accountable for their behavior.
  • Support Victims of Harassment — Offer to help find a solution or refer to campus resources. Victims may hesitate to come forward due to fear, self-blame, not wanting to get the harasser in trouble. Everyone has the right to be free from sexual harassment.
  • Report the Offensive Behavior — Until the behavior is named and challenged, harassers WILL continue to objectify, threaten and humiliate other. Remember, there are few false reports of sexual harassment and no one ever asks to be a victim. Talk to a CAIR Resource, professional counselor or Dean. You can decide if you want steps to be taken to resolve the offensive behavior via mediation or a campus judicial hearing, or through legal action.

Community Resources

Project Horizon (Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault): 463-2594

Lexington Police Department: 463-2112 or 463-3705

Rockbridge County Sheriff's Office: 463-7328

Stonewall Jackson Hospital: 458-3300