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Why victims fear reporting sexual harassment in the workplace

On Behalf of | May 15, 2023 | Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious issue that can significantly impact an employee’s well-being and career. Unfortunately, many employees hesitate to report instances of sexual harassment, even when they know it is the right thing to do.

Learn about why some employees are afraid to report this type of workplace harassment.

Fear of retaliation

One of the most common reasons employees do not report sexual harassment is the possibility of retaliation. Some employees fear that reporting harassment will result in negative consequences, such as termination or demotion. This fear can be especially strong if the harasser holds a position of power within the company.

Lack of confidence in the system

Employees may be hesitant to make a report because they do not trust the reporting system. Employees may worry that their complaints will not receive proper attention or that nobody will address the situation.

Social stigma and shame

Sexual harassment can be a deeply personal and emotional experience. People may feel ashamed or embarrassed about what has happened to them and fear that reporting it will make them look weak or unprofessional. The social stigma surrounding sexual harassment can also make employees feel judged or ostracized if they come forward.


Many victims of sexual harassment fear that others will not believe their experiences and will not take them seriously. They may face gaslighting or victim-blaming, which downplays their experiences and makes them feel like they are overreacting or imagining things. Such treatment can damage an employee’s self-esteem and create a sense of mistrust toward others in the workplace.

Employers have a responsibility to take all claims of sexual harassment seriously and adopt a zero-tolerance approach to it.

By fostering a culture of openness and support, employers can help break down the barriers that prevent employees from speaking out against sexual harassment.

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