Sexual harassment is type of workplace discrimination based on sex or gender. It is a serious crime that is regulated by law. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, it is against the law to harass a person because of a person’s sex. Harassment is further defined to include:
- Unwelcome repeated sexual advances
- Unnecessary repeated touching
- Repeated verbal harassment of a sexual nature
These offensive or derogatory remarks about a person’s sex or gender and can include:
- Repeated commenting on physical appearance in a sexual way
- Repeated use of workplace inappropriate terms
- Repeatedly using offensive and/or crude language
- Making inappropriate jokes
- Discussing sexual activities
The law also recognizes that while it does not prohibit occasional playful teasing, offhand comments, or very infrequent incidents that perhaps are not very serious in isolation – often these gray-area incidents can escalate into the problematic when they become more frequent and/or more intense.
Harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates an unsafe, hostile, or offensive work environment — or when it results in an adverse employment decision.
If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, you should consult with a sexual harassment attorney for legal advice. However, in addition to legal recourse, in many cases counseling can help the victim deal with their feelings about the incident or incidents — and the aftermath. For a person who has experienced sexual harassment, it is quite common to demonstrate the following emotional symptoms:
- Depression or anxiety
- Shame and guilt
- Difficulty concentrating and loss of motivation
- Feeling betrayed and/or violated
- Feeling angry
- Feeling powerless, helpless, or out of control
- Loss of confidence and self esteem
- Distrust, withdrawal, or isolation
And in some cased physical symptoms can result
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Eating disorders
- Increased stress responses
- Loss of sexual desire or problems with intimacy
Reaction to this kind of trauma often begins with shock and disbelief; and then often moves into various states of denial; followed by feelings of victimization — the net effect often impacts ones self-esteem and ability to function. In many cases, this type of harassment goes on for an extended period of time. At first, the victim often attempts to handle the situation by themselves before acknowledging that outside help is needed.
Counseling can help the victim understand the events and that they are not to blame. This helps them to avoid sinking into feelings of fault or guilt and allows the regaining a sense of control, self-worth, power, and autonomy.
If you are experiencing the trauma of workplace sexual harassment, please feel free to contact us to schedule a free 30 minute consultation.