Sexual teasing and harassment: How to identify these abusive behaviors?

Sexual teasing and harassment: How to identify these abusive behaviors?

Sexual harassment is a manifestation of sexual violence and, although it can happen in any type of social relationship, it tends to be more frequent when a relationship of power is exercised as in the case of harassment, a type of abuse that generally happens in work environments and under a relationship of subordination.

What are sexual jokes and harassment about?

Sexual teasing

Sexual jokes tend to happen quite frequently and in many cases, people choose to normalize them in order to avoid any kind of conflict and even to keep their jobs, since the work environment is one of the places where they occur the most.

Many times, when there is a majority of men, for example, who celebrate this type of jokes, it can happen that when a woman tries to set limits, her colleagues label her as exaggerated, and thus, she prefers to endure in silence.

Although some jokes may seem naïve and harmless, it is important to keep in mind that these jokes are loaded with covert or symbolic violence. Some of these common abusive behaviors include:

-Making jokes of a sexual nature that make other people uncomfortable.

– Making comments about the physical appearance or sexual orientation of others.

– Engaging in stereotypical or prejudicial behavior.

– Making aggressive jokes that denigrate others.

Entering into discussions in front of jokes that seek to denigrate other people and that show little empathy, does not help much. When faced with this type of jokes, the most important thing to do is to ask the person to withdraw his or her comment or rephrase it.


Harassment is a form of sexual harassment through which a person takes advantage of the power he or she exercises over another person to engage in various behaviors that generate feelings of discomfort and embarrassment. Among the most frequent behaviors that are part of this type of harassment are the following:

– Seeking unnecessary and unwanted physical contact.

– Making annoying remarks, jokes and innuendoes.

– Lascivious glances and sexual gestures.

– Soliciting sexual favors.

– Spreading sexual rumors about the victim.

– Sharing sexual images and messages without consent.

– Referring to someone using terms such as “gay” or “lesbian”.

– Spying on someone while they are changing or in the bathroom.

– Displaying pornographic material.

Although any person is vulnerable to suffering these abusive behaviors, women are usually more vulnerable to suffering them and they are not only motivated by the interest in achieving sexual contact, but they can also seek to denigrate the person, either to impose the power they have or to stop the advancement of someone who is considered competition for power.

You may also be interested in: What is the impact of sexual abuse on physical and mental health?

Consequences of harassment on its victims

Any type of sexual abuse or violence generates serious consequences for the person who suffers it. When it comes to harassment, the main consequences are the following:

– Feelings of humiliation, loss of motivation, and low self-esteem.

– Isolation and deterioration of social relationships.

– Physical and mental illnesses resulting from stress.

– Deterioration of working conditions and increased risk of job loss.

As you can see, any type of abuse, no matter how subtle it may seem or how normalized it may be, leaves deep wounds that, if not processed properly, can destroy the life of the person who suffered sexual violence.

In the #YoDigoNoMas Movement, we create a safe and trusting space for survivors of sexual abuse or any other expression such as harassment to break the silence and begin their healing process. Learn more about our Movement and the prevention tools we make available to the community at large and join our cause.