Understanding Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Women who have recently spoken up has created a new impetus for culture change according to Julie Johns from Safe Space Consultancy.  “Thanks to the courage of the all the women who have spoken up and named and shamed those who have victimised them in the past.  Speaking up takes incredible courage as the person who has been sexually harassed, abused or raped then faces the risk of being further victimised.  Sexual harassment can be perpetrated by anyone and can happen to anyone, although a higher percentage towards women than men, and is usually perpetrated by someone we know”.

A recent survey carried out by the BBC found that;

  • 53% of women and 20% of men had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace or at their place of study
  • 63% of women and 79% of men did not tell anyone or report it
  • 30% of women and 12% of men were targeted by a boss or senior manager
  • 1 in 10 women left their job or place of study due to experiencing sexual harassment

Julie believes that as we have recently heard in the news, not all workplaces are prepared for dealing with it, she said, “Clear messages need to be sent out within a workplace of what is and is not acceptable in terms of behaviour as well as safe and appropriate procedures for reporting abuse.  The focus of attention is on the victim and their behaviour, what the person who suffered abuse should have done or not have done, meanwhile where is the perpetrator in all of this?  Due to this unhealthy attitude of focusing on the victim the perpetrator of abuse has now become invisible and is free to find someone else to abuse.  Now at last, with all the media attention, the focus and shame is fully where it belongs, spotlighted on the perpetrator”.

A female judge recently stated that “a woman is asking for it if she’s drunk” This plays directly into the mindset of a perpetrator who can then justify their behaviour.  Sexual harassment is caused by the need for one person to gain power and control over another, having a sense of entitlement and revealing their true beliefs that women are inferior.  “Perpetrators will use negative, manipulative communication such as, “Can’t you take a joke?  I didn’t mean it.”  thereby exploiting their victim’s sense of fear and knowing the risks they face in reporting the abuse” added Julie.

Safe Space Consultancy is a Dorset based Consultancy working within the UK with businesses and organisations to raise awareness and provide training and support to address the issues of harassment, abuse and stalking in the workplace in an appropriate and safe way. For more information see www.safespaceconsultancy.org or www.dorsetrapecrisis.org


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