Four Steps to Protect Yourself and Build a Case for Damages
Here’s a secret based on 30 years of experience with sexual harassment cases. Men who sexually harass women are cowards. They harass women because of their own deep and serious insecurities.
Here are four ways you can and should respond:
1. Tell the harasser to stop and report them to human resources or a supervisor. Tell them clearly that their conduct is not welcome. You will be surprised how often this ends the harassment. Harassers who seem strong when they think you are weak often whimper away when you stand up to them.
2. Get moral and emotional support from a close friend or family member. You do not have to go through this alone. Tell them what is happening and how it is affecting you. Having a trusted confidant will reduce stress and help you make better decisions. You will be empowered knowing that you are not alone.
3. Ask friends at work if they have been harassed or know of others who were. There is strength in numbers.
4. Consult with a counseling professional. You may be determined to stay strong, but that doesn’t mean you are free from stress. Counseling professionals are trained to help you understand how the harassment may be affecting you in subtle ways. I know very successful corporate executives who work with counselors to understand their emotions and how they are reacting to what is happening around them.
Counseling professionals are compassionate by nature. They are also trained to give you objective advice. Unlike a family member or close friend who might “pull punches” because they do not want to hurt your feelings, a counselor can tell it to you straight. You need that balance of professional advice and unconditional support.
These benefits alone are good enough reason to seek professional help. Gaining the confidence and strength to object to the harassment and managing any stress it causes should be your first priorities.
Reporting the harassment, confiding in a close friend, and getting help from a professional counselor are also the best ways to build a case against your employer for damages. Taking these steps will help to prove that you really were harassed and that your emotional harm is real.
For more information on how to respond to sexual harassment, call us at (212) 601-2728 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.
John Howley, Esq.