Red Flags for Sexualized Violence and Discrimination

Victims of sexualized discrimination and violence are often not immediately believed. They themselves often mistrust their feelings and assessments. Knowledge of risk factors, strategies of perpetrators and frequent reactions of those affected by violent experiences can help to assess reliably what happens.

Risk factors for being affected by sexualized discrimination and violence can be:

  • strong dependency structures and relationships in the workplace and in everyday student life,
  • authoritarian or unclear management structures of an organization,
  • low income, financial insecurity,
  • lack of job security,
  • being a new arrival: being a new student, new employee, international guest,
  • weak support network of a person at the place of residence & in the organization,
  • prevailing sexist / racist culture at the organization,
  • unclear / no institutional guidelines against and unclear / no complaints procedures for sexualized discrimination and violence.

Strategies of perpetrators in building and maintaining violent relationships can include:

  • complimenting the person and showing excessive benevolent behavior towards them,
  • elevating the person to a special status through praise and appreciation,
  • creating familiarity and getting the person to increasingly discuss private issues,
  • generating uncertainty in the person by changing between intimacy and rejection,
  • blurring boundaries between contexts (e.g. between professional framework and friendship) and thus creating confusion about context-appropriate behavior,
  • putting the person in symbolic debt, then requesting reciprocity,
  • creating spatial isolation (e.g. private news channel, hotel room, private apartment ...),
  • ignoring a "no",
  • testing the person's (physical) limits and gradually exceeding them,
  • using excuses and explanations in the event of a confrontation (e.g. "misunderstanding").

Have you experienced sexualized violence? These can be signals of sexualized discrimination and violence:

There is not the one signal that clearly shows if a person has experienced sexualized discrimination and violence. To better assess situations and behaviors, it helps to be aware of your own reactions. If one of the statements below applies to you, this may be an indication that you have suffered sexualized discrimination and violence.

  • The behavior of a person towards me is uncomfortable, embarrassing or makes me ashamed.
  • I use a lot of emotional energy to push the uncomfortable situation out of my consciousness.
  • My gut feeling tells me something is wrong.
  • I don't dare to confront a person with their unpleasant behavior.
  • I am suddenly rigid and unable to act in a situation or when thinking about a situation.
  • I think frequently about how to excuse the unpleasant behavior of the other person.
  • I try to convince myself that a person's actions towards me are harmless or accidental.
  • I wonder if I am hypersensitive, exaggerating or making something up.
  • I want to make sure that nobody knows what has happened.
  • I have no memory of certain situations.
  • I suddenly show symptoms of stress (such as insomnia, gnashing of teeth, forgetfulness, irritability ...).

Here is a list of support services.