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What You Can Do to Stop Sexual Harassment

Know your rights

Sexual harassment is illegal. You will find lots of helpful information on this website, and you may also want to take a look at Stanford's policy that specifically prohibits sexual harassment.

Concern about Retaliation

You may be concerned about retaliation if you talk to someone‑-particularly if the person causing the harassment is a supervisor, a teacher, or someone else who has power over you. Under no circumstances will Stanford allow reprisals against a person who in good faith reports or provides information about sexual harassment or behavior that might constitute sexual harassment.

On the other hand, intentionally making a false report or providing false information is grounds for discipline.

Some steps you can take, or ask for help with:

Speak up. If you can, tell the person to stop. State clearly and firmly that you want a particular behavior to cease. This is not a time to be polite or vague. Consider the possibility that the harasser may not realize that a particular behavior is offensive.

Get information and support. If you feel you cannot speak up, talk with one of Stanford’s resources for further help and guidance. These people can provide support and advice about Stanford's policy and procedures, and can help to resolve the problem.

  • Send a written message to the harasser. This can often succeed in stopping sexual harassment. Include a factual account of the offending behavior, describe how you felt about it, and state simply that you want that particular behavior to stop. Keep the letter polite, low-key and factual. Here's a sample message.

If the message is to work, it must be a private communication between the persons involved, so don't send a copy to anyone else, but be sure to keep a  copy for yourself. Typically, you won't have a response to your letter, but the troubling behavior will stop right away.

  • Keep records or a journal and save any letters, e-mail, or notes you have about the situation if the harassment persists. Record dates, places, times, witnesses and the nature of the harassment—what was said when, and how you responded.