Many of us have experienced an unwanted touch or comment, but have we taken the time to prepare ourselves against such unwanted sexual advances? Is that even necessary? The #METOO campaign that recently swept our nation speaks volumes of just how prevalent it is. Companies have setup more and more policies about it in the workplace, but how can we proactively protect ourselves at work, school and in our community? Here are a few suggestions that may help ward off unwanted sexual advances:
Pay Attention to Your Surroundings
Notice if someone consistently gets too close and create distance between you. Awareness of physical boundaries may ward off an unwanted encounter before it happens.
No Means No
You may roll your eyes at this one, but it’s important to be assertive and stand your ground. Tell the individual you don’t appreciate their inappropriate words, touching, etc. Some of us in this situation say nothing or ignore the bad behavior, perhaps because it has become prevalent in our culture. Be sure to name and explain the offending behavior. Try to keep the perpetrator’s intent out of the discussion. Don’t allow the conversation to derail to unnecessary or distracting details. The impact of the person’s behavior on YOU is the important point, not the individual’s intent. Take control of the situation and hold this individual accountable to what is not OK when they are around you. State the respectful behavior you expect going forward.
Report It Immediately
(Note: some situations may not require this if a respectful discussion happened between you and the perpetrator – unless the behavior continues.) Be sure to report unwanted sexual advances right away. This one may be difficult depending on where you are; however, it could also be highly effective. If you are at a restaurant, bar or club, ask for the manager and report the unwanted behavior. This gives management the opportunity to note the behavior and watch the individual closely – maybe even escort them out of the building. As a bonus, you have just helped the next person who may have come in contact with that individual! Plus, now the staff knows to look out for him (or her) on a regular basis.
If you are at work or school, take the issue to Human Resources, a teacher or others in authority if the behavior doesn’t change. Many schools and companies have policies on unwanted sexual advances or harassment. By getting a third party involved, you now have the incident on record and it gives the company or institution an opportunity to step in and handle the individual more forcefully.
Wrapping it Up
It is never OK for anyone to make you feel uncomfortable with their inappropriate comments or unwanted sexual advances. You have the power to take control away from the individual and back into your hands. Never ignore or “laugh off” an unwanted comment or sexual advance for two very good reasons. One, it keeps the door open for a second, third, or more attempts by the individual. Two, you did not help the next person the individual may approach after you. If we can all agree to be assertive and report bad behavior, that just may help ward off future attempts.
There is no ironclad way to stop unwanted sexual advances. Unfortunately, there may be a person that continues to behave a certain way regardless of how we prepare or react. In this case, be sure to get yourself out of the situation immediately and report it if you can.
AVA Care is here to Advocate for you, Validate your concerns and provide Answers to your questions. We are here for you – no matter what you decide. Schedule an appointment online or call 540.434.7528 today.
Dr. Teresa Klansek
The content on this page has been reviewed and approved by our Medical Director Dr. Teresa Klansek.