How can I deal with sexual harassment?

Sexual Harassment: How to Respond Correctly

Silence is exactly what you're at sexual harassment in the workplace under no circumstances should. Whether you are harassed as a man or - what is more likely - as a woman (two thirds of all women state that they have been sexually harassed on the job): What matters is that You react - promptly, energetically, confidently. But that also means: Under no circumstances should you freak out. First, because that is what makes you a subtle victim (and that is what makes some obsessive); second, because then you can easily be labeled as bitchy or frigid. This is how you react correctly sexual harassment ...

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Sexual harassment: definition

This sensitive topic is often played down, in which the abusive person tries to mask their act as a misunderstanding, a harmless joke or even a compliment. The fact is: these attacks are always unilaterally and against the will of the victim.

According to the definition, sexual harassment occurs through unwelcome behavior a through which those affected ...

  • embarrassed,
  • intimidated or even
  • humiliated

…feel. The difference to compliments or a flirt is essentially that it is considered by the person concerned degrading is experienced and undesirable.

This feeling is reinforced when the Defense attempts by those affected be ignored by the perpetrators. Sexual harassment in the workplace - like sexual assault in general - is predominantly carried out by men:

Colleagues, superiors, trainers, customers: especially those who have a certain status in the company, uses the power imbalance for his own purposes.

To what extent self-employed women are affected by investors has not yet been adequately investigated, but an article appeared in the New York Times in 2017 that described the experiences of start-up founders in this regard.

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Forms of sexual harassment

Sexual harassment can occur in different shapes occur - physically, verbally, or non-verbally; some attacks are open, others are hidden:

  • Ambiguous or even unambiguous Words
  • Gestures
  • appraising Looks
  • Actions like whistling afterwards, grabbing at the chest or bottom
  • Lewd Remarks (about your appearance or personal life)
  • Lewd Jokes and remarks
  • Showing pornographic representations
  • seemingly random but unnecessary Touches
  • the Asking or coercion to sexual acts
  • Promises such as promotion in return for sexual accommodation
  • threat of professional disadvantages as punishment for refusing to engage in sexual activity

The majority of the attacks take place at the same hierarchical level. Often the actions are similar to bullying. So it's sometimes not about sex, but about Show of force and competition.

Career kink due to sexual harassment

In an ideal world, the person concerned can hope that a Sexual harassment complaint eliminated the problem.

Not even close! Network campaigns using hashtags such as #Aufschrei or #metoo show that the problem is widespread. Apparently exists insufficient awareness of wrongdoing in society.

And unfortunately that applies worldwide. Worse still: A study published in May 2017 found that sexual harassment increases negatively impacts career. Mostly women are affected and they are faced with the decision to report assaults or to initiate a job change. If the reaction of the environment to reporting the attacks turns out badly or if this is to be feared, the women changed jobs.

According to the study, 80 percent of all women surveyed changed jobs within two years. They often take worse pay and / or a reduction in working hours. The researchers found that the psychological stress caused by sexual harassment is comparable to other traumatic experiences.

The stress is just as bad for one serious illness, mugging, accident, or jail time.

Possible symptoms are:

  • Disgust, anger, indignation, shame
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Demotivation
  • Feelings of powerlessness, feeling of inferiority
  • sleep disorders
  • a headache
  • nausea

Workplace Harassment Law: Grabbing is not a trivial offense

Legally, you can find out about the annoying colleague without further ado complain or even him Show. According to the General Equal Treatment Act (AGG), employers are obliged to protect their employees from sexual harassment.

According to the AGG, you can make use of three types of rights:

  • Right to complain
  • Right to refuse performance
  • Right to compensation and damages

In other words, if your employer fails to comply with its duty after a complaint, you can do yours Resign from activity, provided that it serves your protection without your salary being reduced. The prerequisite for this, however, is that you have previously communicated this measure in writing and stating the reasons.

This is to a certain extent the emergency brake, which is why this measure is only available as last chance recommended. That is why it is so important that those affected make themselves noticeable at an early stage. In order to be able to claim damages, you have to wait a period of two months, which begins on the day of the incident.

For the Perpetrator Such complaints can damage your image, possibly even the end of your career. If he doesn't change his behavior, he can Fired without notice become. However, that depends on the level of sexual harassment:

  • Grabbing, fumbling, slapping the bottom, make an unequivocal request for a sexual act - all of these can justify immediate termination.
  • Already "who the common one does not maintain minimal physical distance, but the person concerned touches or touches them unnecessarily and repeatedly undesirably, commits a sexual harassment ”, ruled the state labor court Schleswig-Holstein (3 Sa 163/06).

Consequence: termination without notice.

Sexual harassment: you should do it

What can you do for the first time salacious looks, whistling afterwards or shoddy sayings to do? Often those affected do not dare to act, for fear of professional disadvantages or poorly empathic reactions.

The problem is: Silence often encourages and strengthens the perpetrators in their actions. If there is no reaction, they can gloss over their behavior - which is exactly what they sometimes try to do with the victims. In order to be able to take appropriate steps against sexual harassment, it is important to know your own possibilities and the strategies of the perpetrator.

Depending on the type no insight to be expected, but rather they try to blame you for the situation with targeted manipulation.

In addition to ignoring (which usually doesn't help) or playing stupid ("What did you just say? I think I didn't understand you correctly ...") you have several possible reactions.

  • Let yourself definitely don't be intimidated and immediately speak to the harasser about their unacceptable behavior.
  • Tell him unmistakablethat he (or she) should stop doing this immediately and make him aware that his behavior is punishable and he (or she) is against the corporate culture.
  • Insist on one sorry and a promise not to bother you again. This is the only way to ensure that your message has got through.
  • Reach out to colleagues you trust, look for allies.
  • Collect evidence; document all incidents (date, time, incident) and look for witnesses who can confirm your testimony.
  • Contact the employer, supervisor or a member of the works council.

Immediate assistance in the event of sexual harassment

Depending on how explosive the situation in the workplace is, it may be advisable to consult a lawyer specializing in labor law. For first aid, those affected should contact the following helplines:

  • Help and advice center of the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency: 030/18 555 1865
  • Nationwide helpline for violence against women: 0800/0116 016

Confident responses to sexual harassment

In addition - especially in lighter cases - one of the most sovereign replicas garnish the reaction with a smile or even a laugh:

  • Irritated smile:

    “I can't believe you just said that. But for your own good, I'd better forget about it right away. "

  • Contemptuous smile:

    "Hahaha. In your dreams maybe ...! "

  • Incredible smile:

    "You can't possibly mean that seriously!"

  • Compassionate smile:

    “You poor one. You really need a vacation! "

  • Ironic laughter:

    "I was just missing someone like that ...!"

Laughter underscores your sovereignty and brings what is necessary out of the concept. The attack or offer he might have planned fizzles out and takes on a surprising twist, which at the same time degrades him to a sausage. OK then.

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[Photo credit: Kaspars Grinvalds, by]