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The wide ranging impact of sexual harassment in the workplace: An Australian pilot study
journal contributionposted on 09.03.2018, 00:00 by M Birinxhikaj, Marika GuggisbergMarika Guggisberg
Some limited literature indicated that sexual harassment in the workplace has serious social, emotional, and physical consequences for those individuals subjected to such harassment as well as for family members and friends. While the true prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace is unknown, low victimisation reporting has been observed in the literature. The purpose of the study was to investigate effects of workplace sexual harassment to understand victimised individuals’ help seeking behaviours and negative impacts. Six in-depth interviews were conducted with males and females with a recent history of sexual harassment. Key findings indicated that the concept of sexual harassment in the workplace is poorly understood, perpetrators are female and male co-workers or superiors, and that individuals with a history of sexual harassment experienced deep emotional scars. Victims struggled with self-blame, loss of job satisfaction, mental health problems as well as negative impacts on their interpersonal relationships. Participants responded by escaping the environment, seeking counselling or reporting the incident. However, this was the least likely outcome. Sometimes it was impossible to leave the employment for reasons including financial dependence. The study concluded that better responses are needed to sexual harassment in the workplace to prevent, identify, and appropriately intervene in cases of sexual harassment in the workplace. Recommendations are offered in an attempt to work towards positive changes.