The problem of sexual harassment is not a new one in any society, the fact is, that not in all societies adequate attention is paid to the way of support for the victims of sexual harassment as well as to prevention of it. In this paper we are going to prove, that the problem is sexual harassment is rather serious one and needs certain control; we will study the notion of sexual harassment, its possible causes and situations, when it might develop, the major patterns of the harasser’s behavior.
To simply explain the notion of sexual harassment we can use the following definition: “Sexual harassment is unwanted andÂ unwelcome behavior, or attention, of a sexualÂ nature that interferes with your life” (Ehrenreich, 1990). Sexual harassment actually includes all kinds of forced sexual activities and actions, physical and verbal expressions of sexual nature and so on. All these types of activities are in reality able to have a negative impact on an individual, his psychological state, his work or studies performance and are responsible for creation of offensive and hostile environment in the society.
There is a great variety of situations and circumstances, when sexual harassment might take place, here we name only the most commonly met ones:
-Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â both roles of the harasser as well as his victim might be played by a man and a woman;
-Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â often the harassers are the supervisors of their victims, however there are also cases, when they are among co-workers or even are not employed by the same organization;
-Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â the victim of sexual harassment is considered to be any person, who suffered from the offensive conduct (Bennett, 1991).
The fact that unites all the cases of sexual harassment is that the conduct of the harasser should be unwelcome for his victim.
On the one hand the problem of sexual harassment seems to be rather transparent, on the other hand there is still a lot of confusion about it. The situation is complicated by the variety of behavior types. If a physical sexual attack is always evident to the victim, the situation of sexual harassment are often ambiguous, as victims do not always immediately realize what is happening and start to react to harasser’s conduct too late, because they were not certain. If other people around the victim are also not quite sure about the nature of the situation, this might also increase the confusion. Cases, when victims are afraid of lack of understanding even from the side of their families and friends, or experience fear of repetition or even intensification of the sexual harassment towards them, are not rare. These are actually the main reasons, why victims prefer to keep silence and to endure this problem alone.
The core of the problems, related to sexual harassment, lies in reality in the abuse of power, rather than any of sexual reasons. This just one of the usually applied ways ”“ that of using fake sexual or romantic interest by the harasser (Langelan, 1993). However this type of harassers is far not the only one. Some harassers choose the pattern on the Mother-father Figure and explain their conduct as an attempt to help and to support the victim. The Power-player harassers use their power, providing or threatening not to provide recommendations, good grades, promotions, orders or any other opportunities. They actually put the condition, that their victim should do something for them in order to get something from them. Very often met at workplaces, this type of harassment influence negatively the work performance of the victims as well as their psychological state.
Harassers classified as “confidants” on the contrary prefer to support and develop the atmosphere of trust and intimacy, like between friends of close people, with their victims. They invent stories and situations for evoking sympathy and admiration from their victims and encourage them to share their experiences, problems and feelings in their turn. This usually results in moving the relationships into “an intimate domain”, and the victims don’t know how to get out of the trap.
Very often people, who have to go through a difficult and stressful life period or life events, like for example medical or financial difficulties, divorce or problems with children or any other family problems are likely to become victims of the so-called Situational Harassers. We named just several examples of sexual harassers, in reality there are much more of their types.
To all the above said we can conclude, that sexual harassment is rather versatile and sophisticated phenomenon as it is related to the internal world of human emotions, feelings and stereotypes. It is often hard to distinguish between development of romantic relations or friendship and abusing of the life situation by a harasser both for the people around and even for the victim. Sexual harassment is hardly able to bring any positive changes or improvements either to educational institutions or work environments, thus it seems necessary to be aware of the possibility of sexual harassment as well as means of its prevention and extermination.