Workplace Answers

Workplace Sexual Harassment Prevention

Common Effects on the Victims of Workplace Sexual Harassment


The effects of sexual harassment in the workplace can be long lasting and life-altering for the harassed. If an organization is not proactive with proper sexual harassment prevention training efforts, that organization is opening up the workplace to be the setting for harassment. The victim of sexual harassment may or may not leave his or her position where the harassment occurred, but the problems that harassment caused could follow that victim for a long time to come. There are long-term and short term effects of sexual harassment.

Short-Term Effects

In the short-term, the employee will likely be angry and dissatisfied with his or her job. He or she will be less productive in the position as much energy will be spent on avoiding the harasser or replaying the harassment episodes in the employee’s head. The employee may begin calling in sick more often, or leaving early/showing up late in an attempt to avoid the harasser. The harassment will likely alter the employee's confidence, making him or her less likely to speak up with new ideas and suggestions. The employee will perhaps feel that the organization failed him or her in sexual harassment prevention efforts and start to resent their superiors. If the organization didn't have a solid sexual harassment prevention program to being with, the employee may begin to speak out against the organization's abilities to protect its employees. Outside of the workplace, the employee could begin to experience panic attacks or feel depressed and lose interest in activities or hobbies that person used to enjoy.


Long-Term Effects

Many of the “short-term” effects will actually turn into long term effects as well. Panic attacks and depression could continue, even after the harassing has stopped. The person may begin to associate his or her chosen line of work with this harassment and look to change careers. If the victim leaves the position and moves to a new job, he or she may have a difficult time feeling comfortable at the new workplace, which could ultimately lead to feeling like an outsider. The victim may seek legal action for lack of sexual harassment prevention efforts against the organization where the harassment took place- spending money and energy on a law suit.


When an employer considers the effects of sexual harassment, it becomes clearer as to why sexual harassment prevention should be taken seriously. The effects of sexual harassment can be life-altering for the victim that experiences the harassment. Though it's true that harassment could still take place in a workplace that takes sexual harassment prevention seriously, it’s not as likely this harassment would go on for long periods of time.


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