Why Don’t Victims of Sexual Harassment Come Forward Sooner?
Over the more recent years, the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace has moved into a spotlight of its own. Victims are starting to come forward with stories of how they were disrespected and mistreated because of someone else’s need for a feeling of sexual superiority. Victim shaming is a common defense, especially when the number of victims reaches a point that seems hard for people to accept. Another element of victim shaming revolves around how long it can take some victims to come forward. This can raise the question of why victims do not come forward sooner and seek help from the authorities immediately. This issue is easier to deal with more easily now that statutes of limitations have been eased and other types of abuse have been exposed.
The Culture of Sexual Harassment
The passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 attempted to offer protection to those claiming sexual harassment, though victims were never assured that their rights would be preserved if they made a sexual harassment claim. Over time, each state started to create its own set of sexual harassment laws which empowered victims and have helped to make it easier to file complaints.
Today, sexual harassment victims are more inclined to make complaints because not only are they protected by the law, but there is a growing sense of repulsion around sexual harassment that makes most people want to get rid of it. There are still plenty of instances of victim shaming out there, but those voices are sometimes drowned out by supporters of the victims.
As the culture surrounding sexual harassment slowly continues to evolve, the ability of victims to speak out and be heard and believed increases. That still does not stop many victims from waiting for a very long time to report their abuse. Some victims never file a report at all. Everyone deals with trauma and trauma and tragedy differently.
The Shame Involved
Right or wrong, one of the most common emotions that a sexual assault victim feels after the event is over is shame. To many victims, sexual assault can feel like a humiliating experience that could cast a permanent cloud over their head if it was reported. Many sexual harassment victims find it difficult to talk about their experiences, even in private, with friends or family members. That sense of shame multiplies considerably at the thought of filing a report with the company.
Shame can also make a victim feel as though they are no longer part of the team at work. Many victims fear that if they filed a report their co-workers would avoid them and not allow them to be part of their social groups any more. This ever-present sense of shame can keep a victim from filing a complaint for a very long time.
Unwilling To Accept The Truth
Some victims attempt to minimize the event in their mind, or even blame themselves, so they can just move on with the rest of their lives. While that shame that sexual harassment creates continues to eat away at the victim’s confidence and productivity, the desperate urge to convince themselves that the event was no big deal consumes them.
The truth is that sexual harassment can have many long-term effects on a victim’s health as well as their career. They lose confidence in their abilities at work and the quality of their output suffers. Over time, this may even cost them their job and make it difficult for them to find a new job in the same type of position.
Sexual harassment can cause anxiety-like effects that result in stress, PTSD, eating disorder, heart disease, and clinical depression. The more that a victim tries to ignore what has happened and insists that it was not a big deal, the worse that victim’s psychological and emotional condition will get.
Fear Of Being Punished
it is prohibited for a company to punish someone who files a sexual harassment complaint. Reactions from the company such as a deduction in hours or pay or a demotion are improper and can become the foundation for a civil lawsuit against the company.
Even if a sexual harassment victim knows it is improper for them to be punished for filing a report, that does not stop them from the fear of reprisals by the company. Some victims rationalize to themselves that they like their jobs, and filing a report is only going to rock the boat in a way that should not be rocked.
What Can Be Done?
Victims of sexual harassment face very real consequences when they do not seek justice for what has happened to them. When the victim decides that the best course is to internalize what has happened and try to move on, their psychological and emotional well-being are put in jeopardy. Over time, there may even be noticeable physical effects that could start to cost the victim their job.
The best approach is to hire an attorney to help you through the process of filing a sexual harassment claim. With the major shifts in how the country looks at sexual harassment these days, victims should expect respect when they file claims and not shame.
Our firm is ready to help you make your sexual harassment claim and start the process of seeking the justice you deserve. Talk to one of our professional sexual harassment attorneys today about getting your claim started and trying to get closure for these traumatic events.