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The subtle early signs of sexual harassment

The rise of the #MeToo movement this past year has helped many women feel empowered in sharing their stories of workplace sexual harassment. Many of these stories have also served as a reminder that sexual harassment is not limited to physical abuse, but can also come in discreet forms that may be harder to identify.

If you find that you have been getting unwanted attention in the workplace, whether from a coworker, superior, or even a client, you may be experiencing early signs of sexual harassment.

According to an article by Business Insider, here are a few ways to identify inappropriate behavior at work:

Remarks about your physical appearance

Many people make innocent compliments in the workplace, whether we like someone's dress or notice a new haircut. However, when a compliment has made you feel uncomfortable, it is possible that a line was crossed. Maybe someone made a direct comment about your body in a way that made you feel objectified. Perhaps a supervisor called you attractive, and you were intimidated by his or her position of authority despite feeling uncomfortable.

'Innocent' physical contact

Physical contact does not have to be sexual to be considered inappropriate. It could be a simple pat on your back or having someone put his or her arm around your shoulder unnecessarily. If you feel pressured to indulge such behavior for fear of getting demoted or fired, you may be experiencing signs of sexual harassment. 

Unwelcomed conversation

Perhaps someone keeps asking you to discuss your sex life or to share more details about your dating experiences than you would like to. It could also be that someone is sharing many intimate details about his or her sex life with you, and has disregarded your consent.  

Know your rights

Detecting the early signs of sexual harassment can help you prevent a bigger problem down the road. Ultimately, women can identify inappropriate behavior by recognizing when certain advances feel unwelcomed. If you feel you are being taken advantage of at work, it is worth reaching out to human resources or seeking legal help. Every woman is entitled to feeling safe in her own workplace, whether with coworkers, supervisors or clients.

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