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When Does Flirting Become Hurting?

If you're the recipient of unwelcome behavior (including comments, jokes or photos), if it continues deliberately and repeatedly and if it interferes with your ability to study or work, it is considered hostile work environment harassment. Speak up and tell the person. This behavior is not appropriate at work or in school, even if it is appropriate outside or during everyday life. The aim of this behavior is to maintain the status quo.

If your teacher or boss asks you to stay after school or work and wants to touch you, kiss you or otherwise inappropriately interact with you - in return for good grades or better pay - this is considered quid pro quo harassment. Speak up and tell the them. This behavior is not appropriate at work or school.

Vocabulary Box

quid pro quo - one thing in return for another

There is usually a policy in place at your school or work that lists your organization's stand on sexual harassment. Check with someone you trust: a co-worker, another teacher, a peer counselor, counselor or friend. An established procedure might help with mediation. Even if you leave the situation completely (by dropping out of school, changing your major, quitting your job or moving to another division), the effects of being harassed do not end. If you do not report sexual harassment, the harasser will continue the behavior with someone else.

Why don't individuals report sexual harassment? Some reasons include:
  • You feel ashamed or guilty.
  • You don't know if it's harassment or not.
  • You really like the person, even if you don't like
    the behavior.
  • You think people won't believe you.
  • You don't want to negatively affect your reputation.
  • If you talk to somebody, you'd have to remember the whole process in your mind, and retelling each of the incidents would be just as traumatic.

What are some of the possible physical and psychological effects of sexual harassment?
  • You get really bad headaches.
  • You have problems sleeping.
  • You gain lots of weight.
  • You lose lots of weight.
  • You have problems relating to other people.
  • You deal with it by using substances such as alcohol
    or drugs.
  • You feel a lot of anxiety.
  • You don't feel anything at all; you're depressed.
  • You feel unworthy or unlovable.
  • You fear rape and other crimes much more than you
    used to.

You are not alone. One out of every two women will experience some form of sexual harassment during her academic or working lifetime. Please check these links for more information:

A guide for girls on love, respect, and abuse in relationships
Sexual Harassment Internet Resources


p.s. - Please e-mail me at


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Kavitha - Fighting the Rising Tide - Controlling the Nile River
Monica - No Thanks: Sexual Harassment in School and at Work
Team - The Story of the Suez Canal

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