Sexual assault is traumatic under any circumstance. When it happens at work, it can upend your entire life.
Survivors lose not only their peace, sense of safety, and restful nights – they often also lose their jobs. Sometimes that’s because of retaliation. Other times, it’s because the survivor can’t bear to be in the same space where they were violated. Coping with rape trauma syndrome is a misery on its own, let alone having to slog through it while struggling financially, trying to land a new job, and perhaps forgoing work they once found meaningful.
Research published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine reveals approximately 5.6 percent of women (about 7 million) in the U.S. have reported sexual violence by a workplace-related perpetrator at some point in their lives. Of those, about 1 million reported being raped. Another 1 million said they were sexually coerced. Some were just teenagers. Only about 2 percent reported what happened to police. Given that rape is a hugely underreported crime, we can reasonably presume the actual impact of this issue is even more staggering.
Employers aren’t expected to have crystal balls and anticipate every scenario. However, they are expected to use diligence in hiring. They are expected to provide adequate supervision and security for employees. They’re expected to ensure their facilities are reasonably safe. They should have written sexual harassment policies – provided to workers – clearly explaining what to do if they are a victim of sexual harassment or assault. They are expected to take prompt, effective action if harassment, assault, or abuse is reported. They are expected to refrain from retaliating against the victim for reporting what happened. Unfortunately, some employers fail to take the bare minimum steps needed to protect potentially vulnerable workers.
Workplace Sexual Violence is an Ongoing, Serious Problem
Among just a few of the more recent, high-profile workplace sexual assault claims: Continue reading