The #MeToo movement has helped numerous victims of sexual harassment feel empowered to come forward against their tormentors. For too long, people have gotten away with this type of behavior in the workplace. To call it inappropriate doesn’t do justice to the effect it has on victims.
If you are one of the people who finally feels as though you can stand up for yourself and stop the sexual harassment you suffer at work, you may wonder just how you are supposed to go about it. Someone may have told you to document everything, which is good advice, but how you go about that may not be quite as clear.
Documenting your sexual harassment
Like others here in the Washington, DC, area and elsewhere, your first inclination is to forget about what happened and move forward. However, you also already know it just is not that easy. If you are planning to come forward, you will need evidence to back up your complaint. This means documenting each encounter with the perpetrator. Keeping any written instances of sexual harassment, such as emails, texts, notes and more, is one part of your evidence. You will want to keep a diary, journal or log of each incident.
Details count when it comes to your account of what happened and when. If you just started experiencing sexual harassment at work, then many details probably remain fresh in your mind. Write them down as soon as possible. If you have suffered through this for some time, you may need to search your memory. It is okay if you can’t remember exact dates or times of past incidents, but you will need to include as much detail as possible. Remember to include how it affects your emotional and physical well-being.
Using your documentation of sexual harassment
After gathering your documentation and keeping a log of everything you have been through, you may wonder what comes next. As uncomfortable as it may feel at first, you will need to tell someone. You have the right to a hostility- and harassment-free workplace, and another person who believes he or she has the right to victimize you has deprived you of that. Well, you have rights, too, and that person is infringing on them and taking advantage of you.
It might help put you at ease to discuss your situation with a compassionate and competent employment law attorney. Understanding your rights and legal options in this type of situation could go a long way toward letting you know that you are not alone and that you can do something about the situation. In fact, coming forward could help someone else. Perpetrators of sexual harassment often have other victims who are just as hesitant to come forward as you are. Your bravery could inspire them.