Many times sexual harassers or abusers are strangers, but oftentimes they are part of your family or friend group, colleagues at work, classmates, bosses, and romantic partners.
In a time of civil disobedience and ongoing tragedy, an issue just as disastrous as the ongoing global pandemic and the climate crisis has gained widespread attention from the media and from the public at large. Unlike COVID-19, however, sexual harassment and abuse has been a common occurrence for women and men for centuries. The Me Too Movement founded by Tarana Burke, however, has centered the issue in a way that it hadn’t been before. A wave of allegations of sexual abuse from well-known public figures have proceeded it and hundreds if not thousands of displays of abuse of power and sexual assault in particular, have come to light. While public figures are largely responsible for shining a light on this movement, it’s evident that sexual harassment and assault, especially at the hand of powerful figures involves any industry, profession, race, and gender, though women are far more likely than men to be sexually harassed or assaulted.
What Does the Law Say About Sexual Harassment & How Is It Defined?
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “it is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.” Despite this, however, sexual harassment occurs more often than you would imagine. Many people, especially women at some point come to “accept” that they will experience some sort of harassment throughout their lives.
How Prevalent is Sexual Harassment?
Per the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, “one in five women in the United States experienced completed or attempted rape during their lifetime. Nationwide, 81% of women and 43% of men reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment and/or assault in their lifetime. [And] One in three female victims of completed or attempted rape experienced it for the first time between the ages of 11 and 17.” Many times sexual harassers or abusers are strangers, but oftentimes they are part of your family or friend group, colleagues at work, classmates, bosses, and romantic partners. Being personally related or attached to the abuser can make the idea of reporting the abuse much more daunting, yet regardless of who the abuser is, everyone, yourself included, has the right to defend themselves, and to protect their well-being and sanity from whoever attempts to disrupt it.
What Can You Do If You Have Been Sexually Harassed?
If you have been sexually harassed at work or at school, you can report it through HR or to your school’s designated personnel. You can also initiate a legal case, and reach out to an attorney who can assess your case and fight on your behalf, prosecuting your abuser to the full extent of the law. If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual harassment in Denver, Colorado an attorney can help ensure that you obtain the justice and peace of mind that you deserve.