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Why don't people talk about Sexual Harassment?

People who experience sexual harassment often feel intimidated, embarrassed, or humiliated. They may also be fearful of repercussions if they speak up; sometimes they are concerned that they may get the person they are accusing in an unwarranted amount of trouble. Those affected often feel confused about the incident and about their options for redress. They may be afraid that people won't believe them, or that others may believe that they "asked for it." Fear of ridicule and a sense of hopelessness about the dilemma may keep the problem concealed. In addition, some of those affected may feel that the situation is a "private" one and therefore they may be reluctant to bring it to the attention of those who can help.

The act of sexual harassment involves an abuse of power–that is, one person's taking unfair advantage of another. Individuals who experience sexual harassment often believe that the implicit or explicit threat may be carried out (i.e., they may be hurt, lose their job, get a poor grade, etc.), and fear of this often results in the individual's silence.

Last Updated: 10/22/08