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#AskTheExpert with Doc Joan Rifareal | Ep. 2: Effects of Sexual Harassment

Expertly reviewed by Dexter Macalintal, MD · Internal or General Medicine

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Apr 04, 2022

#AskTheExpert with Doc Joan Rifareal | Ep. 2: Effects of Sexual Harassment

Watch episode 2 in our special #AskTheExpert series for International Women’s Day 2022, tackling mental health issues that continue to plague women today. Our expert is none other than psychiatrist Dr. Joan Mae Perez-Rifareal.

[What follows is the complete episode transcript]

Kai Magsanoc: Hello po. Welcome po sa episode 2 ng ating #AskTheExpert series with Doc Joan Rifareal para sa International Women’s Month. Syempre, International Women’s Day ngayong March 8. Ang topic naman po natin for this episode are the effects of sexual harassment. So Doc Joan, to define lang, to start off, what is sexual harassment?

Doc Joan Rifareal: Hi again, Kai, before I start. Thank you again Kai for having me. Ang sexual harassment ito ay mga forms of behaviors which are sexual in nature na ginagawa or ginagawa sa isang individual with that intention, may intention siya lagi to intimidate, to hurt, or to harm other individuals. Again, these can be mga unwanted, mga unwelcomed gestures, behaviors, with the intention na masaktan, mahurt, mabully, or masaktan, I mean maintimidate iyong another individual in a sexual manner or in a sexual nature. 

Kai Magsanoc: Okay and what are the most common forms of sexual harassment that we see today, Doc Joan?

Doc Joan Rifareal: Oh madami. In fact, when we say sexual harassment, it can take so many forms at kailangan, mas maganda, we are aware kung ano ba itong mga forms na ito para mas alert tayo and aware of these types. Pwede siyang physical, pwede also visual, pwede also verbal. So, let’s start muna with verbal. Sometimes, iyong mga catcalls, kasi nga – basta ang operative word ay unwanted and unwelcomed na mga gestures or mga verbalizations na sexual in nature in nature, talking ng mga sexually suggestive na mga messages na ayaw naman talaga nating marinig, or someone commenting about one’s clothing, body, body type, mga ganun, so mga verbal.

Another would be visual. For example, inappropriately showing someone iyong mga pictures na unwanted, ayaw natin makita, na may mga sensitive of something sexual. Also ‘no, kasama pala sa verbal, nakalimutan ko, mga verbal sexual advances na parang halimbawa, you got an invite from someone to a party or a date because mayroon silang intent to get something for favors, sexual favors, for example. So verbal, visual — iyong mga posters, pictures, graphics — and physical. Ito ‘yung mga acts, gestures na, again, unwanted, like touching, stroking, na ayaw naman ng isang individual na gawin iyon sa kanila. So, it can take all of those forms. Iyong iba naman texting, something na medyo inappropriate.

And usually, ang sinasabi nila Kai, ang sexual harassment ay nangyayari ito sa mga workplaces, sa mga social situations, at ‘yung sa mga iba na mga schools. Mas maganda na alert tayo because there are laws to protect us, especially mga kababaihan. 

Kai Magsanoc: Okay. where do we draw the line between harassment and consent, Doc Joan? Parang kunwari iyong visual, unsolicited image that was sent to me and didn’t ask for, don’t have my consent, so this constitutes harassment, we can legally say that, especially if I get traumatized?

Doc Joan Rifareal: Yeah, oo naman, Kai. Actually, in fact, iyong operative word here talaga is unwanted, unwelcomed, inappropriate, and there is that intention kasi to intimiditate someone, to hurt someone, to cause harm, to, halimbawa, iyong iba kasi they use it to spread rumors, mga ganun. So, mayroon talagang negative purpose to doing it, so yeah.

Ang consent kasi when we say consent, it should be something agreed upon by both parties, eh eto kung wala ka naman, hindi ka naman nagsabing outrightly ng ‘yes this is okay, ‘sige padalhan mo ako ng mga text messages about this, or ’pakita mo sa social media ang mga photos ko or something,’ then that would be considered harassment in nature, in a sexual nature. 

Kai Magsanoc: Okay. Thanks, Doc Joan. Daming ano —  my gosh. I think it’s happening, more common now because of social media. Maybe when you’re having a private intimate moment and someone records it without permission, that can also be a form of harassment. 

Doc Joan Rifareal: Yeah. Correct correct, Kai. mayroon din also ngayon, diba very ano ang, it’s also a concern now, iyong cyberbullying also. So, magkakasame, there is that intinimidation and that intent talaga to cause harm to someone. 

Kai Magsanoc: and to manipulate.

Doc Joan Rifareal: And to manipulate. Oo, iyong iba kasi mga sexual favors, like for example, naalala natin before, may mga kwento before na for a student to get a specific grade or para pumasa, may mga ganun ‘no mga sexual favors. So that is considered as harassment already. Or halimbawa, para mapromote in a workplace, so may mga ano, ‘oh come with me to this party or dinner. Have dinner with me, otherwise, I will invite someone else,’ mga ganun. So, let’s always be aware ‘pag may ganun na, mayroong na — there’s an effect to intimidate you, to manipulate you to do something for favor, it’s considered harassment already. 

Kai Magsanoc: Okay. So, in any case or situation (social situation) that a woman finds herself in a moment where she feels — teka, harassment na ‘to ah, ano po iyong masusuggest niyo Doc na mga safe na ways for a woman to take herself out of that situation?

Doc Joan Rifareal: Oh, it’s very important Kai kapag we feel there is that intimidation already, parang inappropriate na iyong behaviors, especially in a context of something na social or professional in nature, mas maganda, number 1 — to call out that person. Call out in a way siguro na, ‘uy sandali, parang inappropriate ata iyong sinabi mo and I feel uncomfortable hearing that. Baka next time,’ ganun lang, I mean we can always be polite pa rin and practice iyong pagiging professional when we handle ganitong mga statements or concerns in the workplace. So, we can say na ‘uy ‘di ako comfortable, so kung maganda, ‘wag na ulitin.’ Pero kung hindi pa rin, then document it. Kung pauulit-ulit, then mas maganda siguro, I suggest, document natin. Mas maganda to document everything para later on, if there is a need to pursue any further actions, be it legal or otherwise sa HR ng office, or sa school, for example, at least may documentation.

Number 3 — maganda also if makausap natin someone whom we trust, be it in the workplace, sa school, or in any setting. Mas maganda there is always that person na go-to natin na mentor para we are also guided ano ba ang magandang steps, or ano ba ‘to. If there are questions kung harassment na ba ito, then there’s someone to also give their perspective on things and talk about it talaga. Mas maganda na we keep ourselves safe, similar to PTSD, which we talked about sa first episode. It’s always important to keep ourselves safe. Know the warning signs, kung ano ba iyong mga behaviors na which may be labeled as or considered as harassment already. Para with that awareness, then mas nagiging empowered ang woman to, at least, report it, to monitor and document iyong mga behaviors na iyon, and report it to the proper members of the personnel or mga staff sa school or the workplace. 

Kai Magsanoc: Alright. Thank you, Doc Joan. So, to close this second episode naman, your advice, your tips to victims of sexual harassment who are looking to recover from it. 

Doc Joan Rifareal: Yes, so very important, please remember that ‘wag natin isipin na it’s our fault. Number one iyon. I always remind those under my care, ‘pag may mga nafifeel silang ganito, sometimes kasi there is this blaming na ‘did I do anything?’ or parang ‘mayroon ba akong ginawa, or clothing na sinuot para to let them know or let them think na pwedeng gawin sa akin ito?’ Please remember na it doesn’t matter kung ano ang suot niyo, ano nang sinabi ninyo, ano ang behavior ninyo, do not blame yourselves. Always say no, you can always say no if you feel na, uy inappropriate na to. Put a stop kaagad to it and prevention is the key. If you feel na it’s pauulit-ulit na even with the advice na to stop na doing it, inuulit-ulit pa rin, then mas maganda, document and report it para mas stronger iyong ating basis for reporting such behaviors. And talk to someone always, lalo na someone whom we trust. At least, we do not go through this process on our own, and know that help is always available. 

Kai Magsanoc: Thank you, Doc Joan.

Doc Joan Rifareal: Yes. Thank you, Kai. 

Learn more about recovering from trauma and safeguarding your mental health here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Expertly reviewed by

Dexter Macalintal, MD

Internal or General Medicine

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Apr 04, 2022

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