When people face sexual harassment in the workplace, they often do not come forward and report it. In some cases, even if they do, they wait for years to do so. It's important to understand why this happens and what they may do instead.
Researchers claim that four things they do other than reporting the behavior are:
- Denying that the harassment happened or attempting to downplay the seriousness of the issue
- Attempting to avoid the person who harassed them, in hopes that it will end
- Tying to endure the harassment without putting an end to it
- Trying to forget about the harassment or just attempting to ignore that it is happening
Why do they use these coping mechanisms, rather than just reporting the behavior? There are numerous reasons, of course, but one of the main ones is that they feel ashamed. They assume that it was their fault in some way, or they feel bad about allowing it to happen. They shouldn't feel this way -- as a victim, it's not their fault -- but they do.
Another issue is just that they worry about the consequences. They may worry about losing their job, for instance, if the person harassing them is in a position of power. They may worry about being blackballed in the industry and not finding work.
It's important for those facing harassment to understand that they do have rights. They don't need to feel ashamed. They don't need to allow the behavior to continue. They just need to find out about the legal steps they can take to put an end to it.