Sexual Violence is defined as any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work.
No form of sexual violence is ever deserved or the fault of the survivor.
Sexual violence can have serious, long-lasting physical, emotional, and psychological effects on the survivor.
Regardless of the form of sexual violence, all survivors need the support of their colleagues, peers, management, and organization to effectively respond, report and receive follow-up care.
Sexual Violence in the Workplace occurs when a person attempts or performs acts of sexual violence on a colleague, peer, former employee, or volunteer at work.
What are the forms of Sexual Violence in the Workplace?
1. Unwanted Sexual Comments
When a person uses verbal advances including whistling, shouting, and/or saying sexually explicit or implicit phrases or propositions that are unwanted by another person.
Example: A supervisor in a field office makes comments about your body and repeatedly asks you to meet privately outside work to discuss your career opportunities.
2. Unwanted Sexual Touching
When a person touches another person in a sexual way without the person’s consent (under or over clothing). This can include massage, groping, grabbing, or grazing of any part of another person’s body with sexual intent.
Example: While traveling in a car, a colleague keeps touching your legs and rearranges your hair for you.
3. Sexual Harassment
When a person requests sexual favors, bullies, coerces, or makes unwanted sexual advances towards another person. A person can sexually harass a targeted person at work to explicitly or implicitly affect a term, condition, or decision concerning the targeted person’s employment. Sexual harassment can also be used as a means to unreasonably interfere with an individual’s work performance or create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
*During work travel, a senior colleague keeps suggesting you should come for dinner at private hotel room and hints that if you engaged in sexual acts, a follow-up contract could be arranged for you.
*Someone from your donor agency suggests that more money would be given if you had sex with them.
4. Aggressive Sexual Behavior
When a person demonstrates potentially violent behavior focused on gratifying sexual drives.
Example: You started a consensual relationship with a colleague who then starts to verbally abuse you by calling you names, and then physically forces himself on you using aggressive and intimidating arguments.
When a person carries out unwanted or repeated surveillance or acts towards another person. Stalking can include following or monitoring a person, harassment, or unwanted attention that will result in intimidation and fear.
Example: A colleague keeps leaving the office at the same time as you and regularly follows you home. On weekends, this person waits on the street for you offering you food. In the evening, you receive text messages from the colleague.
6. Sexual Assault
When a person intentionally sexually touches another person without his/her consent or coerces or physically forces a person to engage in a sexual act (without penetration) against a person’s will. The perpetrator may use a mix of coercion by physical force, verbal threat intimidation and even placing blame on the victim in order to perpetrate the attack.
Example: While at a party with colleagues, someone pushes you up against a wall and aggressively kisses you. You try to say no and struggle until you are able to get away.
When a person uses a verbal threat or force to inflict harm on another person in order to engage in sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration (mouth, anus, vagina) with a body part or object against the will of that person and without consent.
- While sleeping, an intoxicated soldier comes into your tent and rapes you.
- You have spent a nice evening with a colleague where you kissed but you clearly stated that you would not want to engage in further intimacy. You said “Don’t touch me” and “Take your hands off me” when he touched you. You struggled to get away when he forces himself on you.
8. Other Sexual Acts
Other examples of sexual acts in the workplace are when a person takes or shares nude pictures or videos of another person without permission.
Example: A colleague, with whom you are in a consensual sexual relationship, has been sharing nude photos of you at work without your consent.
This resource provides guidance for survivors and their colleagues in the aftermath of sexual violence occurring in the workplace.
Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation, © Copyright 2019 Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation