In many ways, sexual bullying is just another term for sexual harassment. They may appear the same to an outsider, and they share many of the same symptoms. That said, sexual bullying is most often not about any type of physical attraction or desire for a relationship — even a one-sided relationship — but about intimidation.
It’s just a way for the bully to push you around and make you feel inferior to them. They may do this to increase their own standing and position in the office or just because they want to feel like they are in control.
No matter why they do it, this type of harassment is illegal. Look out for things like:
- Spreading rumors about sexual behavior or related topics — often by text message or online, if not in person.
- Making offensive comments about your appearance, even when trying to pass them off as a joke
- Making assumptions about a person’s sexual orientation
- Making crude jokes or saying “offhand” comments when it’s clear that you can hear them
- Sending text or online messages with an explicit nature.
- Making crude gestures in your direction
- Having inappropriate conversations about you with co-workers
- Creating fake messages, pictures, rumors, notes or other material of a sexual nature and spreading them around the office
This type of behavior can create a hostile work environment, and it may impact your emotional health, your career opportunities and your overall well-being. If it happens to you, it is very important to know what legal options you have to put an end to it.