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Psychological impacts of sexual harassment

On Behalf of | May 15, 2024 | Employment Law

Despite increased awareness and efforts to combat workplace harassment, sexual misconduct remains a prevalent issue. Statistics show that 81% of women and 43% of men experience sexual harassment or assault in their lifetime. These alarming statistics highlight the urgent need to address the intense psychological effects of a hostile and unsafe environment for the victims.

What constitutes sexual harassment at work?

Any behavior that makes an employee feel uncomfortable or threatened due to their gender or sexual orientation constitutes sexual harassment under the law.

This can take various forms, such as inappropriate jokes or comments about one’s body and appearance, unwanted touches that may seem sexual in nature and demanding sexual favors in exchange for job benefits, such as a promotion or a salary raise.

Psychological effects on the survivors

Experiencing harassment in the workplace can have severe mental health consequences, including:

  • Anxiety and stress: Victims experience constant worry, fear and dread about going to work or interacting with the harasser.
  • Depression: Harassment leads to feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and low self-esteem.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): In severe cases, victims develop PTSD symptoms like flashbacks, nightmares and emotional detachment.
  • Difficulty concentrating: The psychological distress caused by harassment makes it challenging to focus on work tasks.
  • Loss of motivation: Victims lose interest in their jobs or feel unmotivated due to the hostile work environment.

The psychological effects of sexual harassment can be traumatizing and can affect the victim’s professional life, personal relationships and overall well-being.

Seeking support and justice

If you or someone you know experiences sexual harassment in the workplace, seek support from mental health professionals or a counselor. Additionally, you can report the harassment to your employer or the appropriate authorities to ensure a safe and respectful work environment. In case the company ignores your complaints on purpose, you may want to speak with a legal representative who can help you hold your abuser accountable for their actions.