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Sexual Harassment: Responding to Sexual Harassment

What can I do if I am being sexually harassed?

You have a right to be free from harassing behaviors and it is very important for you to get support from the people close to you that you trust.

  1. Due to the psychological impact of sexual harassment you may want to reach out to SU Counseling Services for confidential support. For an appointment please call 304-876-5161
  2. If you feel safe and comfortable doing so, you can talk directly to your harasser and explain why the action or comment is offensive. Say it firmly, without smiling and without apologizing.
  3. If direct communication is not safe or comfortable, you can tell the harasser in writing that you object to this behavior. Describe the specific things which offend or upset you. Keep a copy for your records.
  4. If you do not feel safe or comfortable with any form of communication with the harasser there are several on-campus resources you can reach out to for help in addressing the harassment.
  5. You have the option to report the harassment to campus officials and/or law enforcement.
  6. Document the harassment. You may not have yet decided how you want to address the behavior but keeping records can be helpful in the future.
What can I do if someone I know is being sexually harassed?

It is not unusual for victims of sexual harassment to share what is happening with friends or family before they consider talking to a resource on campus. There are some important ways that you can help.

  1. Start by believing. It is very important for you to listen without feeling pressured to have all the answers or to say the “right” thing. It is very helpful for victims to have someone to talk the situation through with who believes and supports them.
  2. Try to stay calm. When someone we care about is being hurt it is easy for us to become protective and angry. Your calm presence however will help the victim be able to more clearly think through their options. Do not confront the harasser yourself.
  3. Know the resources. Sometimes victims have a hard time taking the initial steps needed to address the problem. You can help explain the resources to them or you can offer to go with them to talk to someone. You can also call one of the resources anonymously and explain the circumstances to gain a better understanding of the options available to your friend.
  4. Encourage your friend, if they can, to write down what has occurred and gather any documentation of the harassment.
  5. Take good care of yourself. Supporting a friend in this situation can be stressful for you as well. Please keep this in mind and utilize a network of support for yourself that could include SU Counseling Services, 304-876-5161.