How to Deal with Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

By Calli Kitson,
updated on Feb 16, 2024

How to Deal with Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

According to a TUC report, 52% of women have experienced some form of sexual harassment at work. Despite this, only 79% of those affected reported it

Sexual harassment in the workplace is common. Far too common. And what’s worse is that most cases go unreported and abusers are walking away free.

Reporting harassment can be daunting, not least because of the stigma and shame that is often put on the victim. But no one should have to experience harassment in their workplace, or anywhere else, and reporting the incident can be the first step to getting justice, and moving on.

When she was 16, Calli Kitson experienced harassment at the restaurant she worked for. Here she shares her story and her tips for dealing with harassment at work:

Identify It

When I was 16, I experienced groping and flirtatious behaviour from a fellow colleague. The first time he squeezed my bum I had no idea that it was sexual harassment, nor did I refer to it as “being groped”. It was only when he kept doing it that I realised it was a problem. Putting a name to what he was doing affected the thoughts that went through my mind: ‘Why me?’, ‘Why did he have to do it to me?’ But identifying it was the first step to taking action.

women having a meeting

Approach a Superior

The first time I was groped I made the mistake of telling a colleague, who was also a very good friend. It got around quickly, and suddenly a lot of other people knew what had happened.

I did also go to my superior, but it is so important to go straight to a senior member of staff so the right things can be put in place to get the issue resolved. Because I told my friend the first time it happened, the problem then got round to a lot of other people and soon enough most the people I worked with knew what had happened, which amplified the issue and made me uncomfortable.

Follow Up

It’s important not to give up if you report something and nothing gets done. Sexual harassment is serious, and you shouldn’t let people forget about what happened.

I was groped three times. I continued to report it and was happy to talk to a member of HR or a senior staff member about the situation. Check-in with whoever is dealing with the case, and don’t let things slip under the radar once you’ve filed a report.

Moving On

In the end, the person who was harassing me got fired. It’s important to have a strong support system to be there for you as you work at moving past the incident. It’s natural to have mixed-feelings about things. You may feel a mixture of anger, confusion and even guilt. But always remember that there are friends, family and additional support to help you if you are struggling.

For more information on workplace harassment visit Citizens Advice.

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