With the increase in the media coverage of sexual harassment cases, more and more women know what to look out for while at work. The outing of poor and unacceptable behavior makes victims feel unified instead of alone.
Do you know if what you experience is harassment? If you have to wonder about the appropriateness of a comment or touch, it may qualify. Follow these four steps if you believe you have endured harassment at work.
1. Seek out people to talk about the experience with
One of the first things you should do is talk to a trusted friend or colleague about the issue. Whether that person is an office manager, human resources representative or just a peer, talking about what makes you uncomfortable helps clarify and perhaps solidify your thought process.
2. Realize this is a pattern
Age and experience often go hand-in-hand in many things, especially when it comes to sexual harassment in the workplace. Many times, the victims of harassment tend to fall into a younger age category or are new to a particular position or office. The perpetrators of harassment target those who may seem vulnerable due to age, socioeconomic circumstances or lack of experience.
3. Brush up on harassment laws
California laws regarding sexual harassment have recently changed. Take a look at the definitions, the process for reporting and what you can expect should you file charges. Doing so may empower you to report since laws exist that protect you from retaliation and pushback.
4. Get help and support for your peace of mind
Whether you choose to report the abuse or not, it is imperative you get help for your wellbeing. Find support groups in your area, or surround yourself with friends and family whom you trust and feel safe with. Do not wait until you have a breakdown to get help. Getting support may nudge you to file a report against the guilty party.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is, sadly, a common occurrence. While you may not completely understand how your experience qualifies, you do know that something went wrong. Seek out help early, and ask for support through this challenging time.