What to Do If You Experience Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

The Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation in the Workplace

To continue our discussion around Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we wanted to share information on what to do if you experience sexual harassment in the workplace. But before we share those tips, here is more information regarding sexual violence.

What is Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is an umbrella term that includes any form of unwanted sexual contact, and it affects people of all genders and ages in every community. There are several forms of sexual violence, including sexual abuse, assault (rape), and harassment. Here is a list of other forms:


  • Sexual exploitation and trafficking
  • Unwanted sexual contact/touching
  • Non-consensual image sharing
  • Exposing one’s genitals or naked body to others without consent
  • Words and actions of a sexual nature against a person’s will and without their consent.

The Difference Between Sexual Assault, Abuse, and Harassment

Sexual assault, abuse, harassment, and exploitation are the types of sexual violence that are very common. Here is the difference between each.


Sexual assault is sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the victim. It includes rape, attempted rape, fondling or unwanted sexual touching, and forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetration.


Sexual abuse refers to any physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions. It includes sexual slavery, pornography, and sexual assault.


Sexual harassment includes any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, inappropriate statements, sexually explicit emails, texts, or jokes, and any other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Harassment also includes offensive remarks about a person’s sex. 


Both the victim and the harasser can either be a woman or a man, and they can also be of the same sex.


Sexual exploitation is defined as abuse or attempted abuse of someone’s position of vulnerability (such as a person depending on you for survival, food rations, school, books, transport or other services), differential power or trust, to obtain sexual favors, including but not only, by offering money or other social, economic or political advantages. It includes trafficking and prostitution.” 

The Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation in the Workplace

Sexual Harassment and Violence Facts and Statistics

Here are some stats from EEOC and NSVRC you should be aware of:


  • One in five women in the United States has experienced rape or attempted rape during their lifetime.
  • One in three female victims of rape or attempted rape and one in four male victims have experienced sexual violence between the ages of 11 and 17 for the first time.
  • About half (51.1%) of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner and (40.8%) by an acquaintance.
  • Over half (52.4%) of male victims report being raped by an acquaintance and (15.1%) by a stranger.
  • Almost one in four undergraduate women has experienced sexual assault or misconduct at 33 of the nation’s major universities.
  • It is estimated that 743,630 people were raped in the United States in 2018. This includes being threatened with rape and attempted rape.

Sexual Violence in the Workplace

There are many ways sexual violence can take place in the workplace. For example, lewd comments about genitals shared by a coworker, a manager asking for sexual favors in exchange for a promotion, employees touching other members inappropriately without consent, and more. 


Unfortunately, sexual harassment is common in the workplace but rarely reported. Over 85% of people who experience sexual harassment never file a formal legal charge, and approximately 70% of employees never even complain internally. Sixty percent of women say they have experienced unwanted sexual attention, sexual coercion, sexually crude conduct, or sexist comments in the workplace. And only 30% of all women and 14% of men have reported experiencing sexual harassment at work.


This is extremely unfortunate all around. There are many reasons people do not report sexual harassment. Some fear losing their job or not being believed, but if you do want to file a report and need guidance, please, check out the next section.

Steps to Take if You Experience Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Sexual harassment is traumatic and scary. We understand how sensitive this topic is and want to provide you with information should you ever experience sexual harassment in the workplace. Here are some steps you can take, courtesy of EqualRights.org:


  1. Review existing employer policies, documents, or manuals with specific provisions about sexual harassment.
  2. Confirm whether or not the employer has a complaint procedure, phone number, or website where you can log a complaint.
  3.  File a written internal complaint with your employer by following their existing policies.
  4. Draft a “To Whom It May Concern” letter to inform your employer of your rights and their legal obligations.
  5. File a lawsuit with the applicable federal or state agency in charge of enforcing the sexual harassment and anti-discrimination laws.

More Help?

As noted, sexual harassment is a detrimental experience that no one should ever endure. If you need more support, please check out the links below:


Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)

National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline: Get help 24/7 at 1-800-656-4673

Live chat

RAINN also operates the DOD Safe Helpline: 1-800-656-4673.

Campus Violence

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Office for Victims of Crime Directory of Crime Victim Services

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

National Center for Victims of Crime, Victim Connect Resource Center

1-855-4-VICTIM (1-855-484-2846)

National Center for Victims of Crime

National Domestic Violence Hotline

1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)

available 24 hours a day/7, days a week.

Office for Victims of Crime

To Contact the Office of Overseas Citizens Services 

call 888-407-4747 (from the U.S. or Canada) or 202-501-4444 (from overseas). 

Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center

International Toll-Free (24/7)


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-8255 (TALK)

National Human Trafficking Hotline


National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center


The Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation in the Workplace

The Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation in the Workplace

The Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation in the Workplace

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