What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature which:
- violates your dignity
- makes you feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated
- creates a hostile or offensive environment
You don’t need to have previously objected to someone's behaviour for it to be considered unwanted.
This unwanted sexual conduct can happen:
This unwanted sexual conduct can happen:
- In person,
- On the phone,
- By text
- Email, or
Both the harasser and the victim/survivor can be of any gender. There also does not need to be a victim involved, for example it could be directed towards a group, such as all women or all; men, or if could be something someone overheard people talking about at work or at university.
It is also the person receiving the sexual behaviour who decides if it is unwanted not the other ways around.
Sexual harassment can include:
- Sexual comments or noises – for example, catcalling or wolf-whistling.
- Sexual gestures.
- Leering, staring or suggestive looks. This can include looking someone up and down.
- Sexual ‘jokes’.
- Sexual innuendos or suggestive comments.
- Unwanted sexual advances or flirting.
- Sexual requests or asking for sexual favours.
- Sending emails or texts with sexual content
- Sexual posts or contact on social media.
- Intrusive questions about a person’s private or sex life.
- Someone discussing sex.
- Commenting on someone's body, appearance or what they’re wearing.
- Spreading sexual rumours.
- Standing close to someone.
- Displaying images of a sexual nature.
- Unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature – for example, brushing up against someone or hugging, kissing or massaging them.
Sexual harassment is Never OK.
Sexual harassment has no place in Higher Education and it has no place at UEA.
- Report to the University and get Support. Students and staff can report an incident using the University’s Report and Support system. You can choose to do this anonymously or you can request support from an adviser. If you choose to talk to an adviser they will be able to talk through the options and support available to you, in confidence.
- University Policies. If you choose to make a formal complaint to the University about a student or member of staff there are procedures which set out the steps you'll need to follow.
- Talk to a friend. Talking things through with someone you trust can sometimes help.
- Student Life Adviser. An adviser can talk through the University's procedures, how to make a complaint and what support is available, in confidence.
- Residential Life Team. Whether it is your neighbourhood Student Services Resident (SSR) or the Duty SSR, if you are living in UEA residences there is someone to talk to.
- The uea(su) Advice Service is a free, confidential service. Advisers can support students who have been named in a disciplinary report for breach of the General Regulations for Students, and can talk through the procedure, what options are available and help you complain if you are unhappy with the process.
- Extenuating Circumstances. If you feel your studies have been affected by what has happened you can consider applying for extenuating circumstances.
- Human Resource Adviser. An adviser can talk through the options available whether the incident involved another staff member at UEA, a student, or a visitor to campus.
- Health Assured - Employee Assistance Programme. This free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year service is available to all UEA students and staff. The programme offers confidential support independent from UEA, with professional consultation, counselling, information, resources and referrals to services in your local area.
Find out what other support is available.
Are you worried about someone else being sexually harassed?
If you think someone you know has been sexually harassed there are lots of ways in which you can help them. Understanding the behaviours associated with sexual harassment is a good place to start. Most people will be able to describe what has or is happening to them and how it's making them feel.
Sexual harassment is unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature which violates your dignity, makes you feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated, or creates a hostile or offensive environment. You can find more information and advice on the I'm worried about someone else page.
Find out more
- Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) provide some further information on unlawful harassment.
- Citizens Advice provide further information on sexual harassment.