Sexual harassment is very common in offices all over the world. From the unwanted touches to the inappropriate hugs, emails and text messages. If you are in this kind of situation is it important to keep track of these happenings in the office.
Your body is yours! You are under no obligation to hug someone you don’t want to hug just because you work with him. He has no right to touch you at all because you are friendly with him. He may be your supervisor who may be trying to take advantage of you by asking you out on dates you don’t want to go to. Some may be making comments suggesting that they may want to have sex with you etc.
If you are uncomfortable you need to let him know it. If all attempts to let him stop fail then you need to start documenting all the instances of harassment. Here is how to go about it.
Get a journal and record immediately any single incident in which you felt harassed. It is important you do so immediately because you are able to write every detail down while the incident is still fresh in your mind. That way you don’t leave anything out. Put down the time, date and place. Write the names of all the witnesses around. Write down the name and position of the one who is doing the harassing. Just don’t save this information of your computer at work. Keep it at home. Also put down how the harassment made you feel.
If the harassment comes in the form of emails, text messages or your harasser could even be slipping notes under your computer or in your bag make sure to keep all of them in a safe place. If he gives you unwanted gifts, keep the gifts and every detail that comes with it including where the gift was given to you.
In this patriarchal world it is always easy to blame the victims of harassment. Even when the signs are glaring men have a way of downplaying sexual harassment complaints, so it is important to also write down every action you took to stop the harassment and how the harasser reacted to your actions.
Most sexual harassment victims who take action to stop the act in some cases lose their jobs. Their harassers normally blame it on poor performance. This makes the victim seem bitter or bad when she makes claims that she lost her job because she openly took action against sexual harassment. This is why you have to keep all evidence of you performance on the job such as evaluations, memos and emails commending you for good work done.
Finally you need to report to the appropriate authorities. You need to bring this to the notice of your Human Resources department for them to take action. Depending on the severity of the harassment you may want to get the police involved.