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Dealing with Sexual Harassment at the Workplace

The Secretary

Unfortunately, sexual harassment happens often than we will often like to admit. It can be in the form of verbal or physical contact. Although federal law prohibits sexual harassment it, unfortunately, does not stop some people from acting out their despicable behavior.

There are different ways to deal with sexual harassment when it happens to you. The approach you decide to take may depend on your particular situation. Knowing what to do will help you to deal with such cases or help another colleague to do so.

In most cases, the victims remain silent about the issue which hinders productivity at the workplace. There are various reasons why victims, do not come forward or often delay in doing so. Some of the reasons are;

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Shame

When men and women are sexually violated, shame is one primary reason people do not come forward. Shame by its nature is humiliating and dehumanizing leaving victim’s feeling violated or abused.

Here the victim experiences the indignity of being helpless and at the mercy of the abuser. This causes victims to often blame themselves for the misconduct of the perpetrator.

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Denial and Minimisation

Most victims especially women, do not come forward because the overwhelming feeling of shame causes them to be in denial and minimization of the situation. This is because women who have been faced with catcalling, inappropriate remarks often downplay the actions of the perpetrator.

Some try to convince themselves that it wasn’t a big deal. Other times, the victims convince themselves that they are the only victims of the sexual harasser.

Fear of Consequences

The fear of getting fired from your job is one reason for the unreported sexual harassment cases. There are some potential repercussions victims might face causing them to keep quiet. Some of them include losing the job, fear of not finding another job, being branded the troublemaker, among others.

Most often, especially if the perpetrator is a respected person in power, the fear of not being believed is a roadblock. Sometimes, the claims of victims have had people think they are doing it coming forward just for attention.

Lack of information

Statistics show that people who suffer from sexual harassment at work do not recognize it as a real threat. They do not understand the real world consequences of not reaching out for help or not reporting it. Some emotional effects of this type of harassment is anxiety, loss of self-esteem, PTSD and suicidal behaviour.

Regardless of the reason for keeping mute about a sexual harassment action, it does not stop you from altering your future. This is your time to step up and claim your territory.

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How to Deal With Workplace Sexual Harassment

Here are some ways to deal with sexual harassment at the workplace;

Talk to the Person Directly

When the first incidence of sexual harassment takes place, ask the person harassing you to stop. If the harasser continues with his or her behaviour, inform your harasser that you plan to report the behaviour if it continues. Some people will actually stop when you threaten them. If the harasser fails to stop, then it is time to take further action.

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Find other victims and witnesses

Most of the time, the chance that the harasser is a repeat offender is high. Search for other victims of sexual harassment by your harasser at your workplace. You may find some victims who have filed complaints about the harasser in the past.

Inform your Supervisor

If talking to your harasser did not stop their harassment, report all incidents to your supervisor. Write a letter detailing the events to your supervisor.

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Contact HR Manager

Even after informing your supervisor, inform your human resources manager as well. The HR manager will make you aware of the needed action you need to take to address the sexual harassment incidents.

Contact Senior Management

If your supervisor refuses or does not take action after filing a formal complaint, you can file a formal complaint to your company’s senior management.

Contact your labour union

If both your supervisor and senior management do not take action about the situation, contact your labour union. They investigate sexual harassment incidents at the workplace.

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File a lawsuit

After filing a complaint with your labour union, at this point, you can file a lawsuit and seek monetary damages. If you plan to file a lawsuit, it is best to lawyer up. You should legal representation from an attorney who handles sexual harassment cases.

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