HELP- My Boss wants me! What do I do?
This is a topic based on popular demand from some members of our social media community. What should a female do if her boss at work makes unwanted sexual advances to her?
First, let’s define sexual harassment- Sexual harassment is any form of sexual behavior that is not welcomed by the receiver. It is NOT only physical touching, it can be verbal such as indecent remarks, intrusive questioning about your sex life. It can even be non-verbal such as weird staring at a person’s body, unnecessary close distance communication and more.
What may seem as an innocent action or comment to one person may be considered aggressive by another and the law defends the ‘victim’ not the committer.
In a country like Nigeria where there is high unemployment rate, many tolerate sexual harassment because of the fear of losing the job. Hence, it is even more important we create awareness and educate on how to get out of this difficult situation. These are some tips that have proven to work for many.
- SAY NO. Yes, he is your boss and you respect him but you must realize that he is not your spouse and has no rights over you in this regard. His authority over you ends within the work scope. You need to have the courage to say NO clearly. Speak clearly, maintain direct eye contact and let him know you do NOT want his actions towards you. Do not be apologetic or smile when talking as it may signify you do not really mean your resistance. Let him know you will make a formal report to HR if he continues. Let him know how and when you will make the report.
- IF YOU CAN, AVOID BEING ALONE AT ODD HOURS. We know you may need to meet outside work hours or travel together but try to meet him only at public places. Example meet at the hotel’s restaurant instead of your private rooms or in the meeting room instead of his closed personal office.
- WRITE ALL ACTIONS IN A JOURNAL: In case he doesn’t stop, write down all the actions, times and locations where the actions took place. The objective here is to help you have records for official complaint. Note you should plan to report as soon as possible before a severe assault is made.
- REPORT: If he persists, please report to some authority that can control him. In many organizations, you can talk to Human resources (HR), you can talk to your immediate supervisor if needed. If these don’t work, please identify who are his mentors at work or outside work and complain to them in case HR cannot control him. Make your complaint both verbal and written.
- IF ALL FAILS, ASK TO BE TRANSFERRED OUT OF HIS AREA. We know some bosses are really influential and uncontrollable. If so, you may request a transfer out of his department or even that office location.
6. INFORM THE POLICE: if you have been sexually assaulted and raped, you have the right to call the police and report it as a crime. Again, this is not an easy step but be rest assured you are not at fault.
Do not blame yourself. Neither should you allow guilt, shame or self- pity prevent you from stating your rights.
Finally, do not take this for granted. A verbally abusive boss may someday become physical. Do not ignore the red flags! Stop the assaulter whilst you can.
We recognize some men also get abused, the same advice is recommended for the male folks too.
Please, share your comments, questions or experiences too. You may just be saving a life! Also, feel free to share with others! Thanks.