Sexual harassment is a severe problem experienced worldwide. Studies show that workplace harassment happens is prevalent, especially against women. Yet, it's difficult to quantify it because not everyone who experiences harassment reports it. San Francisco's workplace is no exception to the issue of harassment.
Social media movements like #Metoo encourage more victims to speak out about personal experiences with sexual harassment. Many people are also coming forward to speak out about its effects. Experiencing workplace abuse causes stress, poor mental health, depression, and many other issues. Studies support these claims and indicate that workplace abuse also causes other mental health issues. These include sleep disorders, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and psychological distress.
If you are a victim of sexual harassment, recognizing some long-term effects will help you get the assistance you need.
What constitutes sexual harassment is not the focus of this blog. Our San Francisco sexual harassment attorney, Jeremy Pasternak, has written extensively about this here. However, it's worth briefly touching on what sexual harassment is.
Sexual harassment in the workplace usually happens in one of two ways. An employer can create a hostile work environment through actions, such as offensive touching. “Quid pro quo” is another way that workplace sexual harassment can occur. It means "this for that." A typical example is when a subordinate sleeps with a superior under threat of losing their job or the promise of a raise.
The effects of sexual harassment on victims occur behind a closed door. Since it happens in private, it's difficult to see how this harmful behavior can disrupt a victim's everyday life.
Below are some ways a victim can be affected. It is not meant to be an exhaustive list. If you have been the victim of sexual harassment, it's best to consult professional advice for your specific situation.
Sexual harassment in the workplace can set off a chain of events. Let's take a case where an employer makes sexual advances against a subordinate. The subordinate's refusal may lead to issues directly tied to the subordinate's earnings and career. Failure to engage in unwelcomed conduct can cause the superior to fire or pass that person for promotion. This conduct will impact the victim's finances.
Opportunities for professional advancement are also at risk. The harassment can lead the victim to isolate themselves in the workplace. This can cause missed training, events, and other workplace functions — putting the victim at greater risk for advancement opportunities.
The effects of workplace harassment don't only remain inside the workplace. While the workplace may be a triggering location for a victim who has to endure unwanted attention, it will inevitably trickle outside of the workplace. It will seep into the victim's private life. The stress, embarrassment, demeaning behavior, and frustration felt at work will affect the victim during all hours of the day. It will impact the victim's relationships with partners, children, and other family members.
When workplace sexual harassment occurs over time, the victim often suffers psychological long-term effects. Verbal abuse, sexual harassment, and sexual assault have been shown to cause anxiety, stress, lowered self-esteem, and depression for the victims. Although these issues begin psychologically, they manifest in dangerous physical conditions. It is common to experience panic attacks, headaches, muscle aches, weight loss or gain, and fatigue.
Victims of any type of sexual harassment aren't alone. Many organizations can support your need. Our experienced lawyers at the Law Offices of Jeremy Pasternak provide legal assistance so that you can get the justice you deserve.
Contact our office to schedule a complimentary consultation to review your options.