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Sexual abuse is a tragic &
life-changing ordeal to go through. But it does not define the victim.

Work culture can impact how free abuse survivors feel to speak up

Everyone deserves to feel safe at their place of work. Unfortunately, some workers are denied this by sexual abuse. Sadly, sexual assault does sometimes occur in the workplace. According to estimates cited by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, between 1993 and 1999, around 36,500 workers were victims of workplace rape or sexual assault.

One thing that can get in the way of survivors of workplace sexual abuse getting the support they need and deserve is such individuals not feeling they are free to speak up to their employer about what happened. Fears of facing skepticism, hostile responses and retaliation are among the things that could leave a survivor reluctant to report workplace sexual abuse.

There are things employers can do to can create a welcoming workplace culture and environment for speaking up about abuse. This includes:

  • People in a business’ leadership roles being clear about what behavior is and isn’t acceptable in the workplace
  • Employers not allowing myths or stereotypes about sexual abuse to seep into their words and actions
  • People in a company’s leadership roles demonstrating in their words and actions that it is safe to speak up to them
  • Employers making sure to provide a safe environment when it comes to discussions of abuse news stories in the workplace
  • Employers taking abuse reports seriously and responding properly to them
  • Employers taking measures to eliminate fears of retaliation

One would hope all employers would be creating work cultures aimed at helping ensure that abuse that occurs in the workplace is brought to light and responded to properly. Unfortunately, not all sexual abuse survivors have this kind of workplace. Sometimes, employers, rather than supporting survivors, take steps to cover up workplace abuse.

It is important for survivors of workplace sexual assault to know that encountering a coverup culture at work doesn’t mean they have to give up their hope of receiving justice. Legal actions can be available for responding to cover-up attempts.

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