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Ways to heal from sexual harassment at work

Jan 14,2023

Sexual harassment is any inappropriate sexually explicit verbal or physical behavior that causes the victim to feel frightened, insulted, intimidated, or humiliated, among other things. There is no definite "correct" way to respond to sexual harassment, not even in the wake of #MeToo. Sexual harassment is prohibited nationwide as it is deemed to be a type of sexual discrimination in the workplace. Quid pro quo sexual harassment (needing an employee to put up with sexual harassment in exchange for keeping their job, receiving a tangible benefit, or avoiding punishment) and behavior that fosters a hostile work environment (continual sexual behavior that unreasonably hinders an employee's ability to work) are the two types of sexual harassment that are recognized by U.S. law.


The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in the workplace in the United States based on race, sex, gender, color, national origin, or religion. In addition to its original goal of ending sex discrimination against people based only on sex, the ban on sex discrimination today also prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and transgender identity. Only businesses with 15 or more employees are protected by this law.

The Supreme Court first recognized "sexual harassment" as a breach of Title VII in Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson in 1986. The court also established the criteria for determining whether the conduct was welcomed and the levels of employer liability. Because of the hierarchical link between the two roles in the workplace, it was determined in this case brought by Mechelle Vinson that the sexual activity between the employee and manager could not be regarded as voluntary.


Significant psychological consequences, including anxiety, sadness, headaches, sleep issues, weight loss or gain, nausea, diminished self-esteem, and sexual dysfunction, can be experienced by sexual harassment victims. They also incur expenses associated with their jobs, such as lost wages, low morale, unsatisfactory work, and permanent harm to workplace relationships. Overall, sexual harassment creates a climate that is stressful and counterproductive for learning and working.

The body begins to become overwhelmed when sexual harassment manifests as a trauma that the patient finds difficult to process. Even the victims feel guilty because they believe they contributed in some way to this type of behavior, which makes them self-conscious. Even if they were innocent, the victims nonetheless experienced feelings of embarrassment and shame. These bodily symptoms might range from headaches and muscular aches to persistent physical health issues including high blood pressure and blood sugar issues.


Even while the victim of sexual harassment may eventually wish to come forward and report their abuser, others must do so first. When people have suspicions that harassment is occurring but keep quiet, it gets worse. The victim may find it difficult to speak up, and in certain situations, they may just not be able or willing to. While silence isn't ideal, it's crucial that victims and those who support them understand this.


Journalise your experience

Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of expressive writing for sleeplessness, PTSD, and grieving. After writing, many people experience relief or happiness, and studies show that these feelings last for months later. Spend fifteen minutes writing about your experiences with harassment. Write the simple facts first, and then describe your feelings both then and now. After that, consider your sentiments and record your reflections in writing. Messy is fine. What matters is getting it out. 

Recognize the occurrence and consider what happened

Recognize that it happened to you and express acceptance of your emotions and thoughts. Think back on your journal practice for a bit. When writing, how did you feel? How do you feel right now? It's critical to keep in mind that what you're going through is a typical response to trauma. Your sentiments of hopelessness, shame, inferiority, and guilt are symptoms, not actual conditions.

Confront your feelings of helplessness and loneliness.

Trauma makes you feel defenseless and exposed. To overcome difficult circumstances, it is essential to frequently think of the good things in life and how blessed you are. Helping others is one of the best ways to regain your sense of power. Think of assisting a friend in need, volunteering your time to an NGO or Orphanage, or donating.

Try to anticipate triggers and be ready for them. People or locations connected to the harassment, as well as specific images, sounds, or odors, are frequently used as triggers. You'll be better able to comprehend what's occurring and take action to calm down if you are aware of the triggers that may result in an uncomfortable reaction.

Find a Counselor

A therapist can frequently assist you in exploring your emotions to handle challenging topics. It can be difficult, but it is required to heal. The good news is that going ahead can start to feel more like a blessing after you are equipped with the right resources and assistance to heal your scars from the event. Talking about these experiences in a place where you don't feel judged can occasionally be cathartic.