Sometimes wording can make a difference in how you classify something. Groping falls under sexual harassment, and should never be tolerated. It is one of those things that people let slide when they should be running for help.
Recognizing The Signals
Groping shouldn’t be confused with an accidental brush. Someone bumping into you from behind is not always malicious. But there are signals that make it a lot easier to put two and two together. Someone that is constantly flirting with you and making advances is more likely to ‘accidentally’ touch. When this accidental touching goes from being something small to a full on grope, it is a sign that the suitor has raised the stakes. The trick is to shut down unwanted advances before it gets to the point where groping is seen as a logical next step.
Common Sense Is Underrated
The top answer from people that grope another person is that they didn’t know it was sexual harassment. Or that they didn’t know the other person wasn’t interested. Excuses are endless, but at some point, common sense plays a role in how serious the situation is. People that grope usually have a history, mostly undocumented. It isn’t uncommon to find out that they’ve groped several people but none spoke up about the incident. Without a paper trail to record the incident, every incident afterwards is treated as an unrelated problem.
Human Resources Exists For A Reason
In the workplace, HR exists to deal with these types of issues. Often workers will keep the incident to themselves for fear of retaliation. This can never happen, as legally the company (and several workers) would be liable. Retaliation for reporting groping should never be a concern when talking to HR. In fact, it is more likely that you will get in trouble for not reporting the incident. Unreported instances of groping and other sexual harassment makes it difficult for HR to do their job. Time is always a factor with any form of sexual harassment, so groping should be treated just the same.
Always Talk To Someone You Trust
Talking to a close friend, family member or spouse about the incident is a good idea. It allows you to get a different point of view about how the groping happened. The insight provided while sharing will also be a weight off of your shoulders. If the incident happened at work, then talking to someone you trust does not replace talking to HR. You should consider the feelings of others that have been groped by the same person but were too afraid to report. It takes one person to speak up, and with luck, the rest will follow.
Your body belongs to you, and you only. Personal space is clearly defined, so don’t let anyone tell you that you’re overreacting when that space is violated. Dealing with unwelcome grabbing takes planning, so make sure you’re prepared to move forward.