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Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

The workplace is for work...not for giving or receiving affections.


Lamentably, I need to report that more and more cases of workplace sexual harassment continue to surface. I have recently evaluated multiple women that worked for the same employer. Some were sexually harassed. Others were raped.

A few similarities exist throughout some of these cases. Most of the victims are single mothers undergoing financial difficulties. These women are extremely vulnerable. They not only need to persevere through the relentless rigors of single motherhood, but through numerous socioeconomic limitations. They do not have many options and are easily exploited by others.

The ones who hired these women knew that sooner or later, they could exploit the women. What the harasser did not expect, however, is ultimately paying a high price for their horrendous conduct. They face multiple charges. Unfortunately, in many cases, a long time passes before a harasser’s behavior is exposed. The majority of the women were embarrassed, unaware of to whom they can report the harassment, or afraid of losing their jobs. Many of them cannot afford the loss of employment. Above all, many of the women were unaware of their rights.

Source: Pixaby

Many of the women were confused by their supervisor’s behavior, as it initially seemed as if he was being friendly. However, that friendly behavior became increasingly inappropriate and uncomfortable, but subtle enough to prevent them from confronting the person in power of their job. When the victims were ready to confront the harasser upon it becoming obvious that their intentions were not benevolent, the victims might have felt that they contributed to the supervisor’s behavior by staying silent. At this point, the victims may have felt powerless to defend themselves against their supervisor's’ sexual advances. Those women felt then entrapped by the situation. They felt helpless and hopeless, and the harassment continued.

Victims of sexual harassment are not always women. Men might also be

victims, generally by other men masquerading as pranksters that jokingly touch their private parts.

Many undocumented women and men refrain from filing a complaint as they are threatened with being reported to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It is important to remember that these threats have absolutely no merit. Conversely, when an individual falls victim to such behavior, they can solicit a U-Visa, which is a temporary visa granted to some victims of criminal activity who have assisted law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activities. However, it is necessary to demonstrate the authenticity of the facts, as a false accusation is punishable by law.

Source: Pixaby

Whether it is committed by man or woman, workplace sexual harassment is punishable by law.

Knowing that a harasser can be highly manipulative, it is important to immediately denounce their behavior after one feels uncomfortable, so as to stop the behavior before it escalates.

The workplace is for work. It is not for giving or receiving affections. With this in mind, one should not feel awkward about telling someone “this bothers me, never do it again.”

If the behavior continues, it needs to be immediately reported to management, or to law enforcement if the harasser is the actual employer. It is imperative that one saves any evidence documenting what occurred, in addition to keeping a detailed and written account of the event(s) in question and any following event(s). These cases are legally resolved through Workers’ Compensation, civil, or criminal suits.

Do not feel ashamed about being a victim of sexual harassment. Shame is for those whose conduct is improper, not the victim. It is crucial that victims set aside what others may think and focus on doing what needs to be done. When a person feels ashamed and does nothing, they allow the harasser to continue their behavior. Remember – if someone reports a harasser’s behavior in time, it could be the case that many other victims would not suffer the same behavior.

Do not allow this to happen to you or your co workers. The psychological consequences can be detrimental, and recovery is not simple. The effects of sexual harassment do not only affect the victim, but their families, as well.

More from Ana Nogales, Ph.D.
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