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Why are victims of sexual harassment reluctant to come forward?

Experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace can impact you emotionally, but it can also have a substantial effect on your productivity and overall wellbeing in the workplace. Regrettably, many women who are victims of workplace sexual harassment never come forward, and in many cases, this allows the harassment cycle to continue.

According to Psychology Today, women are responsible for filing about 83 percent of all U.S. sexual harassment claims, with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reporting that it receives about 12,000 reports of this type of behavior annually. Because so many victims of sexual harassment never come forward, though, advocates believe the true number of instances of sexual harassment in the United States is considerably higher.

Why so many women never come forward

So, why is it that so many women who experience sexual harassment in the workplace never call attention to the treatment? Arguably one of the most common reasons sexual harassment victims fail to speak out is because of shame. A typical reaction for someone subjected to abuse, shame can make some victims blame themselves for harassing treatment.

Humiliation, too, often comes into play, with some sexual harassment victims feeling as if they should have been able to do more to stop the treatment. In other instances, sexual harassment victims fail to come forward because they are in denial about the situation, or because they have convinced themselves that maybe things were not as bad as they had initially thought.

While a number of factors can make you less likely to come forward as a victim of sexual harassment, doing nothing is unlikely to stop the behavior. Speaking out about your treatment can potentially not only help you find closure, but it can also help others avoid experiencing the same kind of treatment in your place of employment.

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