Information                    Inspiration                      Insight                        Restoration                        Healing

 Home   Donate   About Us   Contact Us  Resources  Media    Articles on Relationships Articles on Gender Equality

Videos  

CFR

Our Family Album

  Prepare/Enrich

 Seminars

Group Therapy Room

 

 

Sexual Harassment

By Barrington H. Brennen, March 4, 2010

Barrington H. Brennen

The workplace should be emotionally safe for both employees and employers.  However, far too many people do not feel so safe on the job.   There are countless reports of verbal and sometimes physical conflicts and intimidations.  Perhaps the most insidious and common kind of problem on the job is sexual harassment.   It is a problem that is very difficult, painful, and often times embarrassing to talk about.  Too often, it remains unchallenged because of threats, shame, intimidation, and severe abuse of power.

 

WHAT IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT? 

In an article I wrote in May of 2009, I defined sexual harassment as: “Unsolicited physical contact and advances toward someone.  A demand or request for sexual favors; sexually-colored remarks with colleagues on the job; showing pornography; and any other unwelcomed physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature.”  

 

Interestingly, the victim could be the person harassed as well as anyone affected by the offensive conduct. Has your boss ever stopped by and rubbed your shoulders while he "checked out the work you were doing?” Or does your co-worker constantly stop by to flirt with you? A comment like, "Wow, you have sexy lips" can be sexual harassment.

 

WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?

Why is recognizing or reporting sexual harassment so difficult?   First of all the relationships we have in the workplace are a major part of our lives.  It seems to be inevitable that inter-personal relations of some kind develop on the job.   Not only do we go to work to earn a living, we also go to work for the social aspects of relating with people.  Hence, the risk of sexual harassment is great on the job when this natural need for interpersonal relationships occurs where there are insecure, emotionally needy, flirtatious persons without proper personal boundaries.    One author states “Like every other kind of intimacy, the workplace variety brings with it the likelihood of sexual attraction.  It is natural. It is inevitable, hard-wired as we are to respond to certain kinds of stimuli, although it sometimes comes as a surprise to those it strikes.”

 

According to one international study, 9% of employees indicated that they had a romantic relationship on the job, but an additional 33% said they didn’t.  On the other hand, 58% of employees said that they did not have a romantic encounter on the job but were willing to have one.   Wow!

 

The workplace is also made up of persons who either experience conflicted relationships at home or are hungry for an innocent loving touch or a listening ear.  If these persons are not aware of their own vulnerability, they will be high-risk targets for sexual harassment.  They would not even know they are being sexually harassed until the direct requests for sexual favors are put forward.   The gentle touching, lingering handshakes, warm embraces at the beginning of the day, walking together with hands around the waists, sitting on each other’s lap, eating alone in the cafeteria would seem to be so innocent.  But would these gestures really be innocent?  To the unsuspecting persons, these friendly gestures might well be a set up that may prove difficult to overcome.

 

STATISTICS

In my 2009 article, I presented the following alarming universal statistics:  31% of female workers claim to have been harassed at work 7% of male workers claim to have been harassed at work; 62% of targets took no action; 100% of women claim the harasser was a man; 59% of men claim the harasser was a woman; 41% of men claim the harasser was another man.   In The Bahamas more and more persons are reporting sexual harassment. 

 

Return to this column next week when I will explore the characteristics of a harasser, what employers can do, and more information about sexual harassment.

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Barrington Brennen is a marriage and family therapist. Send your comments or questions to barringtonbrennen@gmail.com , or call 1242 327 1980 or visit www.soencouragement.org  or write P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below Are Guidelines For Sharing the Information On This Site
Permission is granted place links to these articles on social media like Google+, FaceBook, etc..    Permission is also granted to print these pages and to make the necessary copies for your  personal use, friends,  seminar, or meeting handout.  You must not sell for personal gain, only to cover the cost to make copies if necessary.    Written permission (email) is needed to publish or reprint articles and materials in any other form.   Articles written by Barrington H. Brennen, Counseling Psychologist, Marriage & Family Therapist.  P.O. Box CB-13019,  Nassau, The Bahamas.   
 
 question@soencouragement.org or barringtonbrennen@gmail.com  Phone contact is 242-327 1980.   
 
Copyright © 1999 Sounds of Encouragement.   All rights reserved.