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Why are victims of sexual harassment reluctant to report?

| Jul 14, 2019 | Sexual Harassment |

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious issue that impacts both women and men. However, when an incident occurs many people are reluctant to report the matter to the proper authorities, and the reasons for this are often quite complex. Psychology Today explains why it’s so difficult for victims fo sexual harassment in the workplace to make the matter known. 

Reporting can be intimidating for a number of reasons. Some people worry that their job will be impacted if they report issues to higher-ups. The fear is that proving the harassment will ultimately be an issue of one person’s word against another, which can be scary if the person doing the harassing is a manager or supervisor. The victim might worry that their job will be jeopardized or they’ll be passed over for promotions and raises. There is also a social fear that the person will be looked at as a troublemaker among peers. 

Harassment can also cause a person to feel ashamed, even though this shame is wholly unwarranted. The victim may assume responsibility for what occurred, even when they hold no blame for the incident. This shame, along with a fear of reprisal, results in many people keeping the harassment to themselves. A victim may also attempt to downplay any issues by telling themselves that the harassment isn’t a big deal. 

A lack of understanding about what sexual harassment is can also get in the way of proper reporting. While unwanted touching or sexual advances clearly constitute harassment, seemingly less serious acts can also have an effect. For example, a sexual joke could be construed as harassment, as can sexual anecdotes told in the workplace. Displaying graphic pictures at work or transferring them via text or email is also problematic.