What Can You Do If You Are Sexually Harassed?
Friends, affirmative action officers, human resource professionals and women's groups can offer information, advice and support, but only you can decide what is right for you. The only thing you can be absolutely certain of is that ignoring the situation will not cause it to go away. Above all, DO NOT BLAME YOURSELF FOR THE HARASSMENT. It is not your fault. Place the blame where it belongs--on the harasser. Self-blame can cause depression and will not help you or the situation.
Many Women Have Found These Strategies Effective:
- Say NO to the harasser! Be direct.
- Write a letter to the harasser. Describe the incident and how it made you feel. State that you would like the harassment to stop. Send the letter by certified mail. Keep a copy.
- Keep a record of what happened and when. Include dates, times, places, names of persons involved and witnesses, and who said what to whom.
- Tell someone; don't keep it to yourself. By being quiet about the harassment, you don't help stop it. Chances are extremely good that you aren't the only victim of your harasser. Speaking up can be helpful in finding support and in protecting others from being victims.
- Finding out who is responsible for dealing with harassment on your organization and whether you can talk in confidence to that person. Almost all organizations have sexual harassment policies, procedures and individuals or counselors who administer them.
- Find out what the procedure is at your workplace or school; it is the organization's responsibility to provide you with advice, help and support, but such meetings at the workplace can provide an important record if legal action is ever advisable.
- If you are a union member, speak to your union representative. Unions are generally very committed to eliminating sexual harassment in the workplace.
- If you are experiencing severe psychological distress, you may want to consult a psychologist or other mental health professional who understands the problems caused by sexual harassment.
Reprinted from the Journal of the American Psychological Association