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Sexual Harassment and Abuse at the Workplace

Photo by  Mihai Surdu  on  Unsplash

The unearthing of many famous men in the US involved in sexual abuse proved the reality of sexual harassment at the workplace. Acts such as making inappropriate comments, invasion of one's privacy, sending sexual texts, and demanding sexual favors to give promotions to employees; are a few tactics of sexual abusers.

Most sexual harassment victims do not speak up

Many victims of sexual abuse do not speak up, which is worrying. As an abuse victim, you should know that you can find justice. There are numerous personal testimonials of victims who have won cases of sexual abuse.

Why don't victims come out when abused?

There are numerous reasons why sexual abuse victims choose to find other coping mechanisms, such as enduring the behavior or downplaying the situation. These reasons include;

Intimidation and threats by abusers

An abuser in power can threaten the life, job, family, career, and reputation of their victim. A victim, therefore, feels powerless and hopeless as they lack the resources to seek justice. Some abusers even threaten to implicate their employees in crimes to keep them from reporting abuse or to make them give in to their demands. In such cases, victims must not cower but take action, albeit discreetly.

Lack of information

Some women may be oblivious of the abuse that happens at the workplace, or they downplay it because they do not understand the after-effects. Some victims even compare their situation with those of other victims they know. They end up feeling like what they are going through is lesser, and they ignore their circumstances. Others do not know the channels to follow to obtain justice. Before you get into employment, it is essential that you know your rights as an employee by reading internal rules of employment, employment acts, and other resources. Beware of the channels to follow in case you face a sexual abuse situation.

Stigma, victim-blaming, and fear of humiliation

Sexual abuse is humiliating and degrading, and that is why victims fear to come out. People these days are quick to blame victims for being assaulted, implying that the abuse is their fault. Victims must know that they are not to blame and should block out societal judgements. Instead, they should take action against their abusers. A victim may also endure abuse because they have been abused before, which eroded their self-worth.

Actionable ways to deal with sexual harassment

If you are a victim of sexual abuse, there are actions you can take to try and free yourself. Some steps you can take include;

Note down exactly what happened

If you have been abused, write down exactly what happened, as difficult as that may be. Where were you? What time was it? What were you doing? What did your abuser say? What exactly did they do? To whom did you report? Is there evidence that you informed any authority on a particular day? If it is a recurring occurrence, try to get some video evidence. Never delete abusive texts as they serve as evidence. Include the names of any witnesses who were available.

File an internal complaint and also seek legal counsel

You can choose to file a complaint in the HR department. Most times, however, that may not work if your abuser is the owner of the company where you are working. In that case, you need to seek legal counsel. A good lawyer will advise you on the next steps to take. You can also band up with co-workers who have also been abused to get the support you need.

Always keep records of your performance

Sometimes a supervisor may try to get you fired by accusing you of low performance because you declined their sexual advances. To avoid that, ensure you always keep track of your performance records. You can also share them with trusted friends as part of the evidence that you do your work well.

Sexual abuse has severe after-effects such as depression, low self-esteem and underproductivity. It is, therefore, important that victims speak up. Rather than blaming victims of sexual abuse and stigmatizing them, we need to focus on getting justice for them and pinning down their abusers.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes.

By Sheena Jordan
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