The National Women's Law Center reported that at least one-fourth of working women have been exposed to some form of sexual harassment in the workplace. Unfortunately 70 to 90% of these women never speak up. Often victims are afraid of losing their jobs, they may feel shame or embarrassment over what they went through or think their story will not be believed.
Sexual harassment is not limited by race, gender or age. From the CEO to an entry level employee, inappropriate behavior can affect anyone, no matter their position within the organization. The term "harassment" can take many forms. Essentially, sexual harassment is any unwanted behavior that is directed at you due to gender. Physical contact is not necessary for an incident to be seen as sexual harassment. Words alone are enough to be considered a form of gender-based torment.
Lasting effects on your health
Victims of sexual harassment can suffer from long-term physical and mental health issues. Common reactions include:
- Sleep disturbance
- Weight loss or gain
- Loss of appetite
Depending on the severity of the harassment, post traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) can develop as a result of what the victim endured.
How to deal with it
The most crucial first step is to realize that you are in no way at fault. If your company has a human resource department that is the best starting point to make sure the issue is addressed. Additionally it is important to keep a written log of the harassment. Make sure to document dates, times, descriptions of what happened, where it occurred and if there were any witnesses. Earning a living should not come at the cost of personal wellbeing. Whether you are a victim, a bystander or wanting to offer support, speak out against harassment in the workplace.