With all the publicity sexual harassment is getting these days in the media and pretty much everywhere we turn, it’s easier than ever to report and speak out about personal experiences. However, some victims may still find it hard to talk about their experience and perhaps have no idea what dealing with sexual harassment entails. Many people also don’t realize that sexual harassment is illegal. Many of us think it is just a nuisance or something that is just a part of life. Women, in particular, are more apt to brush it off as something men just do.
In recent years, women at last started standing up to their harassers, and began shaming the men who victimized them to the public. In the past, women just ignored attempts at harassment, put up with it, or just walked away. These days, no one needs to stay silent out of fear of shame and guilt. So many have come forward now that it is becoming the norm to fight back.
The first thing victims need to understand when dealing with sexual harassment is the fact that it is not their fault when someone catcalls them or touches them in an inappropriate way. Second, they should become familiar with the law and the fact that something legal can be done to both ensure that the harassment stops and the harasser is punished. Third, the victim should take the steps necessary to deal with the lasting effects.
Depending on how serious the incident was, the victim may require counseling. Talking to friends and family and hearing other people’s experiences can help get over any lingering trauma. If the harassment was perpetrated by a stranger on the street, it’s important that a police report is filed with a description of the person so that police can be aware of a potential serial offender who may target more people. If the incident happened at a place of work, it’s important that the victim go to a superior at once and report the incident and follow up to ensure that it was taken a step further to get law enforcement involved if needed. Harassment at work is a serious issue. A victim who does nothing about workplace harassment and just accepts it, is more apt to hate going to work and will have poor performance overall and this can affect every aspect of life both at work outside of work.
With the advancement of technology and the popularity of social media, we re able to share things easier than ever before. It’s now easier to get information across a wide audience. This is a very good thing in a lot of ways but for victims of sexual harassment, it can be a very bad thing. We are seeing this over and over again in high profile cases. Victims are shamed online and made to look like the guilty party rather than the victim. These trolls, as they are often called, will go to great lengths to make it look like the victim was “asking for it” or it is their fault in some way. Victims need to know that no matter how they were dressed, how much they drank or how the looked or acted should not make them a target for any kind of abuse.
Of course, it needs to me mentioned that although it seems women are the ones most apt to be targeted for sexual harassment, men are just as apt to be victims. However, men are even less apt to report incidents due to the stigma attached to doing so.
Sexual harassment is something that may never go away but with more people speaking out and more resources available to help victims, the stigma will disappear and the issue will be out in the open which may make it less commonplace.