1 Tell the Harasser to Stop
  A victim of sexual harassment should clearly tell the harasser that his or her conduct is inappropriate and that they want the harassment to stop. If this does not work, or if the harassment victim feels too scared to verbally confront the harasser, the victim can write a letter telling the harasser to stop his or her misconduct. A victim can also have a third party tell the harasser to stop behaving inappropriately.
2 Report the Incident to a Supervisor or to the Human Resources Department
  A victim of sexual harassment should let a supervisor and/or the Human Resources Department know what is happening. The victim can tell the Human Resources Department what steps have already been taken to stop the harassment, and what they would like to see happen next.
3 Know Your Rights
  Using tools such as literature on sexual harassment and the advice of an attorney to understand what conduct constitutes sexual harassment is a powerful step in confirming a victim’s rights and can build confidence and assist in moving forward with the next steps in stopping the harassment.
4 Coping with the Stressful Effects of Sexual Harassment
  There is no easy answer to how a victim of sexual harassment can best cope with the stressful affects of sexual harassment. Some victims will be hysterical, while others will go through denial and remain outwardly calm. Some struggle with asking themselves why they have been harassed and wonder if they did something to give the harasser the wrong impression. This may cause the victim to feel guilt, shame, or embarrassment. The victim may feel like the harassment is his or her fault, and this guilt and shame can make it even more difficult for a victim of sexual harassment to seek help or to report the harassment.
  Victims of sexual harassment may be affected by the harassment in a number of debilitating ways. Different victims will react differently to sexual harassment. Some common affects of sexual harassment on victims include feelings of confusion, embarrassment, denial, fear, and numbness. The victim may suffer from depression, anxiety, traumatic stress, sleeplessness or nightmares, decreased ability to concentrate, headaches, fatigue, stomach problems, anger, withdrawal and isolation, or problems with intimacy.
  At work, the victim may experience decreased work performance, increased absenteeism, defamation of character and reputation, and loss of recommendations as a result of the harassment.
  These complex and troubling affects on victims of sexual harassment can be extremely difficult to deal with. Acknowledging emotional hardships can be an effective first step for victims to gradually heal. Victims will need time and support to recover from their emotional injuries.
  It can also help the victim to confide in a trusted friend or family member. Confiding in friends and/or family members can serve both to help emotionally by lifting a victim’s spirits and also to help prove damages in litigation for the sexual harassment. Sometimes friends and family members act as witnesses at trial to testify about the harm the harassment caused the victim.
5 Seek Professional Medical Help
  Victims of sexual harassment should seek professional help from a psychiatrist or psychologist to cope with their problems and to deal with managing the emotional distress they face as a result of the sexual harassment.
  If a victim of sexual harassment does seek help from a mental health care practitioner, the treating mental health care practitioner may later testify as a witness about the effects of the sexual harassment on the victim. A victim should consider seeking professional help from a psychiatrist or psychologist to get treatment for the debilitating and stressful physical and emotional affects of sexual harassment as soon as possible after the harassment.
  The mental health care records of the victim may be discoverable by the attorney for the employer in a sexual harassment lawsuit.
6 Document the Harassment
  As the harassment occurs, it can be helpful in later litigation to have a written account of each incident of harassment that took place. As part of documenting the harassment, make sure to save any memos, letters or emails that are related to the harassment, but be careful not to violate the employer’s confidentiality and proprietary information guidelines.
  Also make sure to document all negative actions, and not just the harassing conduct. For example, keep track of any performance reviews, demotions, position title changes, or similar events.
© 2008 Broderick Law Firm, Inc.
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