Sexual harassment is a common issue in many of today’s schools and workplaces. Nevertheless, a lot of people still hold erroneous beliefs about what sexual harassment really is, who it happens to, and what should be done about it. Let’s take a closer look at some of today’s most widely held myths in regards to sexual harassment and examine the truths they should be replaced with.

1. All sexual harassment victims are women and all harassers are male.

While it’s true that most sexual harassment victims are women, it’s important to understand that sexual harassment can and does happen to anyone. It can happen to men just as easily as it can women and it can happen to people of any age. Also, perpetrators can certainly be female and often are. Current studies estimate that 11% of sexual harassment victims are actually male.

2. Some “victims” of sexual harassment ask for it and therefore have no cause for complaint.

This is one of the most widely spread and common myths in regards to sexual harassment – that some people “ask” for the allegedly unwanted sexual attention they get and therefore have no one to blame but themselves. The truth is that no one deserves to be sexually harassed. A given person’s looks, manner of dress, or personality do not constitute “asking for it” and are no excuse for this behavior.

3. If a harasser doesn’t mean to send a sexual message, it’s not sexual harassment.

Many people actually fail to realize that sexual harassment isn’t really about sex. It’s about intimidation, the abuse of power (either real or perceived), and discrimination. While it can come about as the result of a perpetrator’s very real sexual interest in a victim, it’s important to understand that this isn’t a prerequisite. It’s also important to understand that the harasser doesn’t have to “mean to” come across that way in order for their behavior to qualify as sexual harassment.

4. Most sexual harassment accusations are overblown, exaggerated, or false.

This couldn’t be further from the truth, actually. Sexual harassment is a very real problem, even in this modern day and age. Many people wind up having to leave workplaces, schools, and other such environments because of this type of problem. It can be devastating and life-changing. In some very severe cases, people have felt forced to actually relocate because of a sexual harassment situation.

5. Reporting sexual harassment is unnecessary and an overreaction.

Many victims of sexual harassment wrongly believe that if they report the behavior, they’ll be perceived as overreacting to a mild, normal situation that is simply a part of life. It’s incredibly important that victims understand that this isn’t true and that confronting perpetrators and – if necessary – reporting inappropriate behavior to authorities is the best and most effective way to put a stop to these situations. Not only will you improve your immediate working environment for yourself, but you will help prevent the same thing happening to others like you.

In the event you’re not sure where to turn for help with your situation, you can always consider contacting a good sexual harassment attorney for consultation and advice. Most attorneys will be happy to provide you with your initial consultation free of charge, so you really have nothing to lose.

No one should ever feel like they have to put up with sexually explicit behavior at their school or workplace. Regardless of what a potential offender may tell you, it’s not normal and you haven’t asked for what’s happening to you. Don’t be afraid to take action today!

Marcelo Diego of the Diefer Law Group, P.C. offers information on sexual harassment lawyers and employment lawyers in Los Angeles.