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How to Combat Sexual Bullying and Slut-Shaming

We’ve all heard of – or even experienced – bullying at school. Bullying generally involves verbal insults or threats, which can oftentimes lead to physical attacks.

But what if that bullying involves comments and slurs about one’s gender or sex habits? This is most commonly referred to as sexual bullying and can lead to sexual harassment or worse if it goes unchecked. One of the most common forms of sexual bullying includes “slut-shaming” — a fairly new term for how individuals are treated because they are perceived to dress or act in a manner that others view as sexually promiscuous and inappropriate.

What can you do if you’re a victim of sexual bullying or slut-shaming? What if you’ve been accused of such acts? If you live in Los Angeles or the surrounding areas of Santa Barbara County, Orange County, San Bernardino County, San Diego County, or Riverside County, you can contact my firm, the Law Office of Alec Rose. I have been dealing with issues of sexual misconduct for more than 25 years, and I can provide you with the highest level of legal counsel and representation.

What Is Sexual Bullying?

Sexual bullying and sexual harassment are similar in nature, and in our modern society, can take place in person, behind one’s back, and even online. Generally, sexual bullying consists of comments or jokes made, images shared or distributed, and sexual gestures made. Regardless of its form, the result of sexual bullying is that the victim is often made to feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, or even afraid.

Sexual bullying can include the following, whether in person, behind someone’s back, or on social media:

  • Calling someone names of a sexual or derogatory nature

  • Mimicking others to embarrass them

  • Sharing sexually explicit pictures or comments via text messages or email without the other party’s consent

  • Spreading rumors and gossip, or revealing personal secrets of others

  • Engaging in slut-shaming (see next section)

  • Making inappropriate comments about someone’s sexual preference or activities

  • Making unwanted sexual gestures to someone, or taunting

  • Impersonating someone online and making sexual comments or offers on that person’s behalf

  • Writing sexual comments about someone online, on bathroom stalls, or in other public places

There are several motivations for sexual bullying. Envy and jealousy often play a role, as does cementing one’s social status by appearing more powerful or more sexually mature than others. It’s also important to remember that men and boys can also experience sexual bullying as well.

Boys often bully girls to appear more sexually experienced when compared to other male peers. Girls may sexually bully other girls to diminish the victim's social status while elevating their own. Regardless of the motive involved, sexual bullying remains a threat to many minors and adults and can often lead to other criminal offenses

What Is Slut-Shaming?

Perhaps the classic definition of slut-shaming came early on with the observation that slut-shaming consists of “embarrassing, insulting, or otherwise denigrating a girl or woman for her real or extrapolated sexual behavior, including for dressing in a sexual way, having sexual feelings, and/or exploring and exhibiting them.”

Like sexual bullying, slut-shaming can be initiated by both men and women and can involve all of the tactics described above — such as sharing photos or comments online and calling someone names in a personal affront — but it is typically directed toward girls or women.

Consequences of Sexual
Bullying and Slut-Shaming

Sexually bullying or shaming another person can lead the victim to feelings of guilt, shame, insecurity, anger, isolation, and low self-esteem. This form of bullying often extends into sexual abuse or sexual violence when actions move beyond words and gestures and become actual physical contact of an unwanted nature. When this occurs, suicidal thoughts and/or attempts may result, especially among younger victims.

Is Sexual Bullying or
Slut-Shaming a Crime?

A lot of sexual bullying that takes place in schools goes unreported or undetected. However, Title IX of the Education Amendments act of 1972 requires schools that receive federal funds to adopt and publish grievance procedures for students who file complaints of sexual discrimination, including complaints of sexual harassment or sexual violence.

If matters go too far, misdemeanors and sometimes felonies can be charged under state law. California law, for instance, allows “consenting adults” to share nude photos, but not when either or both of the participants is a minor. To shame or bully someone under 18 by sharing an explicit photo is considered illegal.

Also, if sexual bullying or slut-shaming somehow extends to physical contact, especially of intimate parts of the body, then it can be considered sexual abuse if the victim is a minor and sexual assault if the victim is an adult. Likewise, if the acts described above occur in a workplace involving coworkers and/or supervisors, sexual harassment laws come into the picture.

Charges of stalking can also occur if the sexual bullying becomes threatening, harassing, or repetitive and focused on one victim. Penalties can range from fines and possible jail time for misdemeanors and up to a $100,000 fine and eight years in prison for more serious crimes like child pornography.

How the Law Office of
Alex Rose Can Help

If you’ve been a victim of sexual bullying, I can help you understand and utilize the Title IV process, if it is available at your institution. If things are more serious, I can help you obtain a restraining order to stop the bullying.

If you’re facing a sexual misconduct charge, I can help you develop a solid legal strategy that enables you to exercise your full legal rights and protections. Whether you’ve been the victim of sexual bullying, or you’re facing charges, you can rely on my 25 years of legal experience and my dedication to your safety and well-being.

If you live in Los Angeles or in Santa Barbara County, Orange County, San Bernardino County, San Diego County, or Riverside County, contact my office today to schedule a free case consultation.