Sexual harassment is one of the most sensitive issues in the world today. People are becoming more and more aware of the effects of sexual harassment on the physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing of the victims. it is definitely a stressor and a source of previously understated health issues.
Sexual harassment refers to the act of discrimination and bullying (physical or verbal) based on ones gender. It Includes undesired sexual advances, comments and physical activity of intimate nature that makes it uncomfortable for the victims in the specific environment. In the USA, sexual harassment is a violation of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While men are sometimes victims to sexual harassment, women remain the most affected. The harassment can be Quid Pro Quo (where decisions in a work environment, such as promotion, are based on the on ones reaction to requests for sexual favors) or hostile job environment where the workplace is intentionally made to be difficult and offensive to those unresponsive to sexual advances (workplacefairness).
Sexual harassment has been linked to various health issues (Rettner). These issues are mostly stress oriented and may have catastrophic endings. This health related eventualities are discussed below:
Sexual harassment victims may experience long-term depression. Statistics show that young persons who are sexually abused in their teen years or early 20s may experience depression up to their 30s. the statistics was conducted on 1,000 youths. The victims usually develop self-doubt which may then turn into them blaming themselves. The victims begin to feel that they are the ones responsible for what happened to them. Self-blame has a negative impact on the mental health of the victim which then leads to depression.
Post-traumatic stress disorders have been linked to sexual harassment. The victims re-experience the trauma they underwent and thus do their best to avoid anyone or anything that reminds them of the harassment. A study that was conducted in 2009 indicated that post-traumatic stress disorder is more common in women who are sexual harassed in the military. Women in the military are up to four times more likely to experience this condition. After interviewing 450 women it was observed that there is a link between sexual harassment and PTSD. Researchers also considered past psychological trauma and distress history of the victim.
Sexual harassment triggers physiological effects in the vitim as stress does. This leads to a higher chance of getting cardiovascular diseases. Victims show a positive correlation between blood pressure and harassment.
Victims of sexual harassment experience sleep problems. This is believed to be caused by stress and anxiety which in turns affects the victims sleeping habits. The victims may be experiencing nightmares about the event and may stay up all night thinking about it.
A victim may show suicidal behaviours. This may be as a result of stress which makes the victim experience self-blame. The victims may feel that they do not deserve to live or may be embarrassed and afraid of what the society will think of them.
This is the belief that there is something wrong about oneself. It may be a result of the harassment and the stress after. The victims begin to think that everyone around them has noticed and are sensitive to small issues as they think that people are referring to what happened to them.
In conclusion, stress from sexual harassment of women is a delicate issue all across the world today. It is the primary source of mental frustration depression and its related medical effects. This effects include post-traumatic disorder, law self-esteem, high blood pressure, lack of sleep, neck pain and most unfortunately death from suicide. It is therefore extremely important for management in workplace institutions to take a lead role to minimize and most desirably take legal action against these perpetrators of this professional injustice.
Rettner, Rachael. "6 Ways Sexual Harassment Damages Women's Health." 9 November 2011. livescience. www.livescience.com/16949-sexual-harassment-health-effects.html. 10 April 2016.
workplacefairness. sexual harrasment - Legal standards. 2016. www.workplacefairness.org/sexual-harassment-legal-rights. 10 April 2016. <www.workplacefairness.org/sexual-harassment-legal-rights>
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