How To Cope if You’re a Victim of Workplace Harassment

A female employee in an uncomfortable workplace setting with a male coworker and someone touching her shoulders.
2 months ago

Workplace harassment is an unfortunate reality that affects employees across all industries. It’s insidious, taking many forms—some blatant, and others subtle—yet the impact on victims is profound and spills into their personal lives, affecting their well-being and job satisfaction. For those who find themselves in this distressing situation, understanding how to cope is paramount. Here’s a guide on how to cope if you’re a victim of workplace harassment.

Identifying Different Forms of Harassment

Workplace harassment isn’t limited to overt acts. It includes any conduct that degrades a person based on their race, sex, age, or any other protected characteristic. This extends to physical harassment, which can range from inappropriate touching to physical assault.

Verbal harassment often involves unwelcome comments, slurs, or jokes that create a hostile work environment. Non-verbal actions, such as leering, gestures, or offensive images, also constitute harassment and are just as damaging to one’s psyche.

Physical and Mental Health Strategies for Coping

When confronted with harassment, it’s natural to feel a wide range of emotions—from anger and frustration to helplessness and fear. These emotions can take a toll on your physical health and lead to increased stress, anxiety, and even depression.

It’s important to prioritize self-care to begin coping. Engage in activities that promote relaxation, such as yoga or meditation, and make sure you’re getting enough sleep and exercise. Mental health strategies like seeking therapy or through professional helplines can provide a supportive outlet for managing these challenging experiences.

Seeking Support Within and Beyond the Workplace

Victims of workplace harassment often feel isolated, but it’s crucial to realize you’re not alone. Seek support from trusted colleagues, friends, or family members. Sharing your experience can diminish the sense of isolation and help you garner the strength needed to address the situation.

Additionally, don’t hesitate to contact your organization’s human resources or legal services to respond to the harassment. Understanding when touching in the workplace crosses a line into harassment is vital knowledge, and seeking guidance from appropriate authorities is the first step to establishing your boundaries.

Understanding Your Legal Rights and Resources

Empower yourself with knowledge of your legal protections against workplace harassment. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title VII of the Act specifically prohibit harassment in most workplaces. Resources like the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) offer guidance on filing complaints and finding legal representation. Your employer must legally address and prevent harassment, and if they fail to comply, there are legal measures you can pursue to protect yourself and prevent future incidents.

The path to reclaiming your peace of mind isn’t an easy one, but it’s a necessary course of action. Whether it’s through reporting incidents, seeking legal recourse, or proactively fostering a healthier workplace environment, you have the power to effect change. By understanding how to cope if you’re a victim of workplace harassment and equipping yourself with the knowledge to move forward, you can prevent this from happening to you or anyone else you work with.

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