Sexual harassment is a sex crime although it carries a lighter penalty than sexual assault. Several innocuous actions can be interpreted as harassment even if the “harasser” is unaware that they are committing sexual harassment. Generally, these actions are sexual in nature and include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Trading for sex. Offering a benefit, reward, or payment in exchange for sexual favors. It can occur in the workplace (for promotions, a raise, or transferring to a different work assignment), and in schools (for better grades, recommendations, receiving help).
- Threatening for sex. The opposite of trading for sex, this is when someone coerces a person into having sex with them, or face consequences.
- Elevator eyes. Looking at a person’s physical appearance up & down. Also called “checking them out”.
- Cyberbullying. Following someone through the Internet and then harassing or threatening them. Social media like Facebook and Twitter is often used in cyberbullying.
- Stalking. Following a person around and taking illicit photos, videos, and recordings. Repeatedly asking someone for a date after the person has expressed disinterest. Giving unwelcome personal gifts, such as flowers. Stalking people through the Internet by collecting pictures and information also counts.
- Sexual proposals. Engaging in unwelcome sexual propositions, invitations, solicitations, and flirtation. Making unwelcome suggestive or insulting sounds, such as whistling and cat calls. Asking about a person’s sexual fantasies, sexual preferences, or sexual activities. Commenting on a person’s body, dress, appearance, gender, sexual relationships, activities, or experience.
- Strong language. Using unwelcome and sexually degrading language, jokes, innuendos, or gestures.
- Public indecency. Displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, videotapes, graffiti and/or visuals that are inappropriate in academia or business. Displaying or transmitting sexually suggestive electronic content, including inappropriate e-mails.
- Unwanted physical contact. Making unnecessary acts with other people if they did not permit it, such as hugging, rubbing, touching, patting, groping, pinching, or massages.
- Engaging in sexual violence. Includes rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, or sexual coercion.
If you have been charged with sexual harassment, do not hesitate to contact a sexual assault lawyer. These cases can be difficult to work with because both parties have to prove guilt or innocence.