The unfortunate reality is that sexual assault is common in modern society. But the fact that we hear about it more now than we did a decade or two ago doesn’t mean that such misconduct wasn’t a thing. In fact, we dare argue they would happen more often, but the social climate was such that it would all go under the carpet. Just imagine the horror of being a female working for a big corporation back in the 1930s.
Nevertheless, the times are a-changing. These days, sexual assault prevention is at an all-time high. But it wasn’t some systematic change in government, local, or private places of power that did it. It was all thanks to brave people, mostly women, who dared raise their voices and elevate the safety of their professional environments. One such heroine is a friend of ours, and here’s what she did about sexual assault at her work place.
Proactively React Against Harassment
Our friend M is a strong and independent woman. She takes care of her only child as a single mother, works hard, and parties even harder when she finds time for fun. Nevertheless, nothing of that would be possible if she didn’t stand up to sexual harassment at her workplace. “After being groped several times by a colleague at work, I finally said enough,” she recalls with confidence bursting from her eyes.
It’s now more than a decade since the event, but what she did still helps others feel safer. It, in turn, also helps them be more productive professionally. But it’s not just about strong reactions. It was important to become proactive, too. What she meant was taking seriously any complaints and immediate responses, setting policies and expectations, educating employees, and most importantly, walking the talk.
Taking complaints seriously means doing something about it before any further damage to the complainant. On the other hand, setting policies and expectations is all about handling situations so that everyone else sees the consequences of such behavior. But it should also be about educating everyone in the work environment about what’s okay and what’s a no-go. Lastly, walking the walk means that everyone can bear the consequences.
Inform Employers About the Situation
One of the major problems, according to M, is that not all employees are okay with telling others what is going on. From social stigma to not being comfortable, victims don’t want to go to their employers and tell them about the situation. However, that’s crucial. It’s key to feel the courage to come up to them and report the assault. Otherwise, the chances of them doing something about it are closer to none.
Sexual violence is a common theme in mainstream media these days. And that’s great, says M. Back when she was on the receiving end of such misconduct, not many people were ready to talk about it. In fact, even the employees weren’t fine with doing something about it. In their eyes, it would damage the firm’s reputation. However, the people at the top are more aware of such problems nowadays and are fully prepared to help.
Call the Police
Any unwanted sexual misconduct should lead to criminal justice. That means that police are more than welcome to investigate such claims, suggests M. In her eyes, anyone who was on the receiving end of sexual assault or rape should immediately call the police. Like the mentioned heads of companies, the cops are more than aware of the importance and seriousness of such claims. They are ready to walk the talk and apprehend the suspect.
But contacting law enforcement shouldn’t be down to sexual assault survivors only. Namely, the employer should provide their workers with security, serving as the first line of defense in a workplace. These people should be available from nine to five, or any other working hour, ready to stand up and deliver. Of course, if that’s not possible for any reason, there should be a direct line between the workplace and the police instead.
Seek Medical and Mental Help
In case any type of sexual abuse happens at a workplace, health services should be available immediately. Sure enough, that doesn’t mean that any firm, store, or any other workplace can have a first aid station. That’s impossible. However, employees should be encouraged to seek medical help from their superiors. Regardless of the act, victims will need some form of medical attention, be it physical or mental.
In the worst-case scenario, experts need to examine the supposed victim to confirm rape. And as one can imagine, this isn’t exactly a walk in the park for the survivor. Moreover, it’s not comfortable for the doctors as well. Nevertheless, what happens after is also crucial. Such acts require mental support to make sure the victim doesn’t lose it even more. All this should be available at any time for anyone who suffers an attack of this kind.
Joined Support Groups
As mentioned, mental health is as important as physical in these situations. Many people who are victims of sexual abuse struggle mentally, as not all abuse is rape. Words and mere touches can hurt more than punches, says M. She suggests all employees who went through an unfortunate scenario like sex harassment should join an emotional support group to overcome the issue.
That is regardless of how they seem to be handling the situation. They might seem perfectly fine on the surface, but on the inside, they’re spiraling down. In case they don’t feel like it, employers can talk with their family members. That way, they can try to reach out to them from elsewhere. The family can also help by proposing support groups. Of course, it’s understandable that such decisions take time. Hence, you shouldn’t be pushy about it.
Help Educate People About Sexual Harassment
All of the above doesn’t count for anything if people don’t have a clear idea of how awful and wrong sexual misconduct is. Unfortunately, it’s not a common theme in our everyday lives. And this is regardless of how far we’ve come. It’s still not enough. Employees should, therefore, attend Q&As where survivors of sexual assault share their views of these heinous acts. It’s the only way to send a clear message out to people on how to handle such events.
People like our friend M are essential to rape and sexual assault prevention. Their unfortunate experiences how more impact than a work seminar with some expert who only talks theory. Because, as we know, theory doesn’t always translate well into practice. It’s about reaching out to as many people as we can so that we can change social behavior and mild responses to sexual assault. This includes both men and women, no matter the statistics.