How Do You Cope with Unwanted Male Sexual Advances in the Workplace?

When the Seattle Times reported that former Washington Rep. Jim Jacks was forced to resign his seat in March 2011 for “inappropriate behavior” toward a young female staffer, it got me to thinking about why this problem is surfacing now.Women and girls have been sexually harassed and assaulted for centuries — and it continues to this day. What’s different in our culture that encourages the painful, horrible truth to surface now?

As I state in a recent article for the US~Observer, I just don’t believe women who tell me “It has never happened to me.” I suspect they’re in denial or are fearful of opening up — or worse they accept that this is just the life of being a woman. There isn’t a twelve year old girl alive who hasn’t learned how to handle grown men who make sexual comments or reached out and touched her inappropriately. As a watchful mother myself, I kept a careful eye on my daughters and taught them how to handle themselves, too.

How do you cope with unwanted male sexual advances in the workplace? Here is a list of some common answers I’ve heard. This is excerpted from my recent article in the US~Observer.

1. “It’s just part of what I have to deal with. I shrug it off.”
2. “I’ve never told anyone. I would lose my job.”
3. “I’ve been told to let it go. No one will believe me.”
4. “It’s never happened to me.”
5. “Why would any woman put up with that? I wouldn’t.”
6. “I wish I had been brave enough to speak up long ago.”
7. “Irrational fear kept me quiet.”
8. “I spoke up and got fired. He got promoted.”
9. “That doesn’t still go on, does it?”

As long as any of us keep quiet about the harassers, we’re leaving women to protect themselves, which has lasting and traumatic consequences. As a psychologist, I know only too well how long it takes a woman to recuperate from sexual harassment (and abuse) — years, if ever.

Let’s keep the #MeToo Movement going strong. The US~Observer wants to know your story. If you’ve been victimized by Jim Jacks or any other unethical, corrupt politician or strongman, let me know. And, if they haven’t been brought to justice, let the US~Observer champion your cause.

My newest book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS: How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you,” is about people like Jim Jacks. If you’ve felt powerless in the face of abuse by someone with severe Empathy Dysfunction and are ready to take back your power, please grab a copy as soon as it’s available. (To stay up-to-date on its release, please sign-up for my “Enriching Your Life” newsletter.)

If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and need to talk about your experience so you can begin the healing process, please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

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