Sexual harassment is broadly defined as unwanted conduct of a sexual nature. It is a form of gender-based violence that humiliates and isolates women. Sexual harassment can deeply impact women’s lives: it can lead to survivors leaving their job or dropping out of their studies, and it can negatively affect on mental health.
Some examples of sexual harassment are:
- Making sexually embarrassing ‘jokes’
- Wolf-whistling or catcalling at you in the street
- Sending inappropriate texts and emails to or about you
- Making offensive and/or sexually explicit comments
- Making unwelcome verbal or physical advances
- Unwelcome touching in a sexual way
Women experience sexual harassment in all aspects of their lives, to the extent that it has been normalised by society. People often call it ‘banter’ or a ‘just a bit of a joke’, but its impact can be devastating, especially when it is not recognised as abuse.
What are my legal options?
Each case of sexual harassment is different and the legal steps you can take will depend on the specific circumstances. For some guidance and signposting as to where you can get help visit our legal factsheet on sexual harassment.
Looking for more information on sexual harassment?
Other support and organisations that can help
- National Helpline: 08088 01 03 02 (daily, 6pm - midnight)
- Helpline: 0800 160 1985 (Monday to Friday, 8am-8pm)
Suzy Lamplugh Trust
- National Stalking Helpline: 0808 802 0300
- 03456 000 459 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm)
Victims of Internet Crime
Conciliation and Arbitration Services (Acas)
Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
Guide: Sexual harassment in the workplace
In immediate danger or looking to report?
If you feel you are in immediate danger, call the Police on 999. If you are not in immediate danger but would like to report, call the Police on 101. Alternatively, you can fill out Police Scotland’s online form. Police Scotland respond and investigate reports of criminal activity, this includes various forms of gender-based violence.