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The real effects of sexual harassment in the workplace

While sexual harassment is often thought of as a phenomenon that affects women, the truth is that men can be victims as well. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there were 6,862 sexual harassment claims filed in fiscal year 2014, roughly 17.5 percent of which were filed by men.

No matter who the victim may be, there are serious consequences to the behavior beyond simply making someone feel uncomfortable. According to Live Science, many people who have experienced unwanted sexual advances develop long-term depression as self-doubt turns into self-blame.

Victims of sexual harassment may also experience the following:

  •        Sleep problems: Several studies have linked harassing behavior to keeping victims awake at night or causing nightmares.
  •        High blood pressure: In a study of Boston union workers who reported sexual harassment, researchers found a correlation to elevated blood pressure in women.
  •        Post-traumatic stress disorder: People who experience harassment are more likely to develop PTSD.

A Canadian study even found that sexual harassment can lead to suicidal tendencies. The study evaluated more than 1,000 high school students. Of the 23 percent who had experienced frequent harassment, 15 percent said they had made suicidal attempts “often.”

Unfortunately, many people do not report harassment in the workplace. A survey from Angus Reid states that roughly 80 percent of people who experience it never report it, either because they want to handle it on their own or they feel their careers would suffer. However, the behavior can create a significant barrier in victims’ abilities to do their jobs well. Reporting any incident is imperative to resolving the issue and ensuring that a company has the correct policies in place to prevent others from experiencing the same.

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