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how to respond to sexual harassment [closed]

asked 2016-10-21 13:27:50 -0600

strongKaur gravatar image

updated 2016-10-21 19:24:25 -0600

I'm sexually harassed in my workplace on a near daily basis. I work in healthcare so its by patients and healthcare workers. If it was one person i could handle it. It's not- its different people, different situations. I'm stressed out.I told one of my friends what some people say to me and she was shocked.

A part of me wants to respond angrily. I'm just trying to do my job. But I feel a) scared about potential consequences for my job and evaluations b) uncertain of what to do because i feel like it's wrong to respond in anger. Here's the thing, I'm angry either way. One situation is I swallow the anger and I carry it around with me. The other is that i would say something to that person. But I don't know what to say, and how to say it in a calm manner. I don't want to be angry at the other person because does sikhi not teach us its wrong to treat other people like that? We should see God in other people and treat them nicely even if they are bad to you? I'm so confused. How do i respond? No one trained us on how to deal with this

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Closed for the following reason the question is answered, right answer was accepted by strongKaur
close date 2016-11-19 15:08:39

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answered 2016-10-25 00:52:53 -0600

strongKaur gravatar image

I had some time to think this over. I think my answer to this is probably going to evolve over time as I gain more experience, but I wanted to provide at least a starting point in case anyone else is also dealing with this. Thank you for your responses gn and cloud. I appreciate it.

There are lots of barriers in being able to respond the way we want in workplace sexual harassment. If it’s a boss, we have to think about influence on work environment, evals, promotions, etc. If it’s a patient/client, we have to think about what’s acceptable legally. Barriers within ourselves include our fight/flight/freeze response, doubt that the situation was as bad as we thought (happens in any sexual violence), personal past experience, perceived level of threat, etc. I’ve realized from the outside looking in people don’t understand these barriers sometimes. It’s not as simple as “just do this.” The response will be different in different situations. I’m in a male-dominated profession. It makes it hard.

It is comforting to realize that there are options because I had a hard time seeing them last week. For example silence; diverting the conversation; warning the person this is inappropriate and will not be accepted; leaving the situation to collect your thoughts; getting help/leaving and getting someone to come in your place of accompany you; reporting. Seeing the options makes me feel less powerless and therefore less angry. That feeling of anger came from feeling powerless to be able to change the situation. Sometimes the safest option in the moment is silence, and sometimes its not even about options but silence happens due to the freezing in response to the threat. But we can act later through different avenues to do something about it. We can have conversations later, or report things later, or educate later. Sometimes a simple one-liner “that is not okay” “that is making me uncomfortable”, etc. can be helpful when we can’t think of anything else.

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answered 2016-10-22 00:17:48 -0600

Cloud gravatar image

In my country if your in a labour or trade unions for that specific field for example in healthcare you can turn to them for help. In this time of globalization the trade unions still have many members and are still influential in my country. Maybe you can contact your respective trade union by email and ask them how to deal with your situation in your country?

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not in a union unfortunately. there is a complaints process if its my boss (due to problems with the complaints system most people don't bother reporting), but not sure what to do about patients!

strongKaur gravatar imagestrongKaur ( 2016-10-22 01:59:09 -0600 )edit
Cloud gravatar imageCloud ( 2016-10-22 04:35:51 -0600 )edit

thanks... not exactly what im looking for. people honestly don't care about credentials/yrs of schooling. More interested in the side of how to manage this while still being graceful/true to my sikhi

strongKaur gravatar imagestrongKaur ( 2016-10-22 11:49:27 -0600 )edit

answered 2016-10-27 11:28:28 -0600

Guruka Singh gravatar image

updated 2016-11-01 17:04:01 -0600

StrongKaur Ji - When people harass you they are trying to get you to react to them. It puts them in control. Do you wear bana at work? Bana is really powerful. Dastar is a great deterrent to anyone who wants to mess with you. As soon as you react to someone who is harassing you, you have given them control. The deepest answer to harassment is to make yourself so powerful, poised, beautiful, radiant and graceful that no one can disturb your grace, no matter what they do. That requires deeply honoring yourself and your own grace.

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Thanks! There is certainly a difference between reaction and response. You are right- reaction is impulsive and leads to loss of control. This does not limit an appropriate response like reporting your boss for sexual harassment, which is illegal.

strongKaur gravatar imagestrongKaur ( 2016-10-27 20:14:54 -0600 )edit

answered 2016-10-22 11:23:02 -0600

gn gravatar image

updated 2016-10-22 18:52:32 -0600

The following bani from the Bachitra Natak is particularly motivating. It is given as a transliteration together with an english translation by Dr. Jodh Singh and Dr. Dharam Singh. For context, the preceeding verses describe how during the 'Bhangani Battle' Hari Chand shoots three arrows at the Guru. The first is aimed at the Guru's horse. The second narrowly misses the Guru's ear, and the third hits the Guru's belt but causes no injury. Rasaval Chhand Jabey baan lagiyo. Tabe roos jaagiyo. Karan(ung) le kaaman(ung). Han(ung) baan taan(ung). As soon as the tip pricked me, my anger flared up. Catching the bow in my hand I pulled an arrow and shot it. [31] Sabe theer dhae. Sarogan(ung) chalae. Tabe taak baan(ung). Haniyo ek juaan(ung). On the other hand the warriors running here and there and their weapons were moving around. Meanwhile I shot that arrow which killed the powerful young man (Hari Chand). [32] Hari Chand mare. Su judha latare. Su karor raiy(ung). Vahe kal gaiy(ung). Having killed Hari Chand other warriors were also trampled. The death killed Karori Rai also there. [33] Ran(ung) tiaag bhage. Sabe traas paage. Bhae jeet meri. Kirpa kaal keri. Seeing this, repudiating the war all took to their heels and (seeing their commander dead) became horrified. Lord I became victorious because of your grace only. [34] Ran(ung) jeet aae. Jayio geet gaaye. Dhan(ung)dhar barke. Sabe soor harke. We returned from the battlefield victorious and were hailed all round by singing victory songs. After that the wealth was passed and all the warriors became elated. [35]

Read the more comments about this Shabad by Guru Gobind Singh Sahib Ji

Stand up to being sexually harassed, as a Sikh's we shouldn't let people harass us or others. Being angry over these things is justified. Remember the Singhs and Kaurs fought many armies, many saw Vaheguru's light in people but that didn't stop the standing up for what is right.

Gursikhs like Saint Jarnil Singh Ji vowed to take revenge if anyone raped or harassed any Sikh girl. So don't be worried to stand out.

Bul Chuk Maf


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Thanks for your response. I don’t believe in revenge, I believe in justice, and I do not believe justice is black and white. A fight can be fought in many different ways, sometimes that is in educating others, sometimes in a complaints process, etc.

strongKaur gravatar imagestrongKaur ( 2016-10-22 12:05:13 -0600 )edit

Thank you for validating my feelings. My anger doesn’t feel good to me- my mind is not in my control when I am angry. So I am trying to find a way of responding that I’m at peace with. Right now its probably a one-liner that this is inappropriate language, etc.

strongKaur gravatar imagestrongKaur ( 2016-10-22 12:06:44 -0600 )edit

different situations warrant a different response, i'm going to need to think about this for a while and develop a script otherwise each time i will react instead of respond

strongKaur gravatar imagestrongKaur ( 2016-10-22 12:08:07 -0600 )edit

Sorry bhen ji I think I got caught up in thinking you were being physically harassed, and realised my answer was way off.

gn gravatar imagegn ( 2016-10-22 18:31:10 -0600 )edit

Reading your question again, if someone is verbally harassing you then the best thing would be not to react in anger. The best answer you will get is by doing an Ardaas and taking a Hukamnama either physically from Guru ji or from your phone.

gn gravatar imagegn ( 2016-10-22 18:33:29 -0600 )edit

answered 2016-10-27 11:40:20 -0600

Singh2000 gravatar image

waheguru ji ka khalsa waheguru ji ki fateh

I am fully agree with Guruka Singh ji's answer. With turban, bani, bana and kirpan no one will try to mess with you.

Just give try....


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Just to add quickly- i don't want anyone to conclude this just comes down to appearance. I think Guruka Singh was speaking also more deeply about honouring the self, and using appearance as part of that. Honoring the self is about reducing vulnerability factors for sexual violence

strongKaur gravatar imagestrongKaur ( 2016-10-27 20:16:22 -0600 )edit

because if we were to simply say "look like this and you won't be sexually harassed" is victim-blaming and is wrong. I needed to emphasize this point for that purpose- this is about using appearance to honour the self

strongKaur gravatar imagestrongKaur ( 2016-10-27 20:22:41 -0600 )edit

because if we were to simply say "look like this and you won't be sexually harassed" is victim-blaming. I needed to emphasize this point for that purpose- this is about using appearance to honour the self and increase your personal power

strongKaur gravatar imagestrongKaur ( 2016-10-27 20:23:06 -0600 )edit

StrongKaur Ji - You are absolutely right. It is about techniques to become invincible and that comes from within. Thanks for making this point clearly.

Guruka Singh gravatar imageGuruka Singh ( 2016-11-01 17:03:31 -0600 )edit

I just want to clear you guys. If you read my comment properly. There is also word "BANI". Without bani we are incomplete. Just outlook is not enough without any purpose. When someone wear 5 Kakars that person suppose to represent Guru Gobind Singh. With Guru's grace, we can deal with any one.

Singh2000 gravatar imageSingh2000 ( 2016-11-02 13:07:39 -0600 )edit

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Asked: 2016-10-21 13:27:50 -0600

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