Who is at Risk?
Often times, when people think of sexual misconduct they think of a man in power harassing a woman. The truth is sexual misconduct can happen to anyone...by anyone. Power remains a prominent factor but it is no longer just a male vs. female scenario or a boss vs. secretary situation. Both victim and the harasser can be of the same or different gender.
of sexual misconduct claims to the EEOC come from women, the reality is that sexual misconduct is pervasive and there is a growing number of people across the gender and sexuality spectrum that are being victimized. The LGBTQ community in particular is especially at risk according to a study
conducted by the School of Public Health at Harvard University, where 51% of LGBTQ respondents reported to being sexually harassed.
Concerns in the Workplace
The EEOC has pinpointed several risk factors
that contribute to creating a work environment conducive to sexual misconduct. Some of these factors include:
- Companies that have an imbalance in power where supervisors are mostly of one gender, or there is a small group of people with extreme authority.
- Workplaces with isolated work environments such as field workers or hotel employees.
- A homogeneous employee population where minority populations can feel marginalized.
- A young workforce because they may be unaware of laws or workplace norms.
According to the ACLU
, low wage earners and non-English speaking workers are especially vulnerable since they may not know their rights, be more afraid of retaliation or not be able to speak up against misconduct. It is everyone's right to work, learn or socialize in a misconduct free environment.
Concerns for College Students
According to a study
on sexual misconduct on college campuses conducted by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), students of all genders are equally harassed. While women are often subjected to sexual jokes, comments, gestures, or looks, male students also report being harassed. The study continues to point out that "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students are more likely than heterosexual students to experience sexual misconduct."
No student should feel powerless against sexual misconduct and every person - regardless of gender or sexual orientation is protected under Title IX. In addition, many colleges and universities have awareness training and counseling services available to help put an end to harassing behaviors on campus.
If you or a friend has been violated and want support without having the incident reported through Title IX, seek out the confidential resources
person on your campus. These staff members are a special resource that can explain the reporting options and processes (both on campus and with police) yet do not need to report the incident. They are on campus for the survivor, to give them a safe place to talk and understand their options.
For students adventuring abroad or even international students coming to study in the U.S., being aware of differing cultural norms is important in combating sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct is never ok, no matter what country you are from or what country you are visiting. Many colleges provide these tips to students when crossing cultural borders:
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- Consider cultural sensitivity and your personal boundaries.
- Learn social norms about personal space, touching, and gender dynamics.
- Balance independence with your own safety.
- Trust your gut and tell someone if you feel you have been violated.