Published on February 27th, 2019
Sexual abuses in the workplace have gotten a great deal of media coverage over the past year as men and women are finding the courage to come forward and speak up about their experiences.
Movements like #MeToo and #Time’s Up began in the entertainment industry but are creating awareness of the problem in all industries. California and many other states address the issue of sexual harassment by barring it in the workplace.
Many incidents are illegal due to discrimination based on gender. Laws punish physical types of conduct, and agreements between employees and employers make harassment grounds for legal action.
What Sexual Harassment Entails
Many people, including well-educated adults, do not know exactly what actions are considered harassment. When in doubt, review the policies of the workplace.
In addition to unwanted sexual advances and sexualized touching, a sexualized atmosphere constitutes harassment.
Areas where people feel free to share dirty jokes, lewd comments about the bodies of coworkers with zero consequences and a complete disregard for the harassment policy are examples.
Expressed or implied need for sexual favours in order to keep a job or be considered for advancement is also sexual harassment.
This can often lead to sexual assault. An admirer at work begins to stalk the recipient. A supervisor starts to spread rumours about a subordinate that refused a dinner date is liable for defamation.
Invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and threats all fall under sexual assault which many times begins as harassment.
The Main Factor For Not Reporting Abuse
Fear is the main factor that sexual abuse is not reported. The National Institute of Justice indicates that even in a time of increasing awareness regarding sexual abuse, most cases are not reported.
It is estimated that reporting represents less than a third of the actual amount of cases. The numbers are broken down as follows:
- 36 percent of rapes are reported
- 34 percent of attempted rapes are reported
- 25 percent of sexual assaults are reported
Victims are afraid of retaliation, not being believed, and lack of confidentiality. This is compounded by the fact that most victims know their attackers.
The first priority of lawyers accepting sexual harassment and abuse cases, and clients will experience this at Winer, McKenna & Burritt, is to ensure the confidentiality and safety of victims.
Lesser know factors, as indicated in a Psychology Today article, include denial or minimalization of the event as a defense mechanism for moving forward.
Minimizing the trauma helps to convince victims that they will recover quickly. The problem with this factor is that the trauma manifests itself in many harmful ways.
Depression, insomnia, loss of appetite, PTSD, and zero motivation are often traced back to the sexual abuse event.
Victims who were drugged, inebriated, or dissociated will often only have vague memories of the abuse and may not be able to recall it until years later.
A history of sexual abuse in the past is another factor. Those who were abused as children or younger adults typically have no desire to speak up about current abuse.
Many have a lack of trust in the criminal justice system and some do not feel they can withstand the scrutiny again. The media coverage of a trial, the cross-examination of the lawyers for the alleged perpetrator, and the opinions of other people can be too much to endure.
Whether feeling sexually harassed at work, believe a sexual assault has occurred against you, or have yet to report a rape, contacting an experienced law firm for a free evaluation and consultation can help answer questions and begin legal procedures if that is desired.
Most operate on a contingency fee basis, which means the client pays no money unless a settlement or judgment is awarded in the case. A lawyer can also recommend professional counselling, support groups, and other professionals who can help victims deal with the aftermath of the abuse at any point in time.