ASK ABE: Sexual Harrassment

Ordinarily, this column is hosted by Abe. However, as this is an autonomous wom*n’s edition, this week’s column will be hosted by Peek-a-Boo.

Disclaimer: This column can contain questions that are sent to us from current USYD students, however for this special women’s edition they are not from real people. We have decided to write fictitious questions based on fictitious scenarios to provide a space for the questions that many find hard to ask.

Dear Peek-a-Boo,

I am in my second year of uni and trying really hard to do well. I’ve been asking lots of questions during and after class in order to get a good idea on what to write in assignments. My tutor encourages me in class and as far as everyone else can see I am doing quite well. However, I think my tutor has taken things too far. He invited me to his office and touched my leg while he talked to me. I am very shy and am scared about what people will say about me if I tell them. I didn’t mean to confuse him about what I wanted and now I feel like I can’t go back to his class. I’ve missed four classes already. I have to do this subject at some point because it is compulsory. I really don’t know what to do.

HG
—–
Dear HG,

I’m really sorry to hear that you are feeling confused and scared. Most people will feel threatened, foolish and embarrassed under these circumstances, however it is normal to feel uncomfortable in the situation that your tutor has created and he has a responsibility to make sure that you are not intimidated by him.

The University has very strict policies on sexual harassment, which includes a safety net to ensure that your marks will not be affected if you make a complaint. You absolutely have the right to be safe at university, and no one has the right to touch you inappropriately without your consent. You have options on how to move forward, and you should consider all of them and their possible impacts on your education, health and wellbeing when considering what you would like to do.

I highly recommend talking to someone regardless of whether you want to make a complaint or not. You do not deserve to feel bad about what this person has done to you. The SRC has caseworkers you can talk to about the processes of making a sexual harassment complaint. They will explain how the university will go about investigating your allegation and what the possible outcomes are. There are also university staff members who can explain these processes. The SRC caseworkers can also suggest other courses of action you can consider. Remember, though, that it is ultimately your decision to take whatever action you choose. No woman deserves to be touched inappropriately or be made to feel uncomfortable or intimidated by another person, nor should any student experience threatening or intimidating behaviour from another person on campus. There are no excuses and no situations where it is ok.

The SRC Caseworkers are always happy to help and to discuss your options with you. You may also wish to seek the support of a women’s health service. Go to www.whnsw.asn.au to find a service in your local area, or if you find it easier to access online services www.reachout.com provides information for people who have experienced sexual harassment.

Remember, you are not alone and there are services and people out there who can help you.

Peek-a-Boo.

 

Contact SRC Help for confidential professional and independent assistance with Harrassment or discrimination issues

Call to make an appointment with a caseworker or Drop-in (no appointment required): Tuesdays & Thursdays, between 1 and 3pm

9660 5222 | help@src.usyd.edu.au

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