One thing that you find when sexual harassment begins to come to light is that people may not have reported it as often as you would’ve assumed. Perhaps the person who is finally making that report has actually been dealing with it for years and just now decided to say something. Or maybe other people at the workplace step up and report that they were also harassed once one person does.
Critics often say that they should’ve spoken up sooner, and they question why people wait. This is unfair to the victims of sexual harassment, and the specific reasons that reports are sometimes delayed need to be understood.
Positions of power
First and foremost, the person who is committing the harassment is often in a position of power. This could be someone’s boss or supervisor. The victim often worries about retaliation from the company. If someone sees that corporate ladder as the only way to get ahead, they may feel like making a valid report is going to ruin their career.
Lack of belief
Another potential issue is that the victims worry about being believed. What if the other person just claims that they are making up the story? What if coworkers decide to blame them for what happened? Again, power often plays a role. If one person is an executive and the other one is an entry-level worker, that person may feel like they don’t have the power to take action.
The thing to remember is that all employees have rights. There are certainly legal options that can be utilized. Anyone who has experienced harassment needs to carefully consider these options.