If you are a woman with a job, you probably are no stranger to sexual harassment. After all, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has addressed at least 6,500 sexual harassment complaints each year over the past decade. Many more incidents, of course, went unreported.
You probably expect sexual harassment at work to interfere with your professional goals. For example, your employer may take adverse employment action against you for complaining. Regrettably, though, sexual harassment also may destroy your mental well-being.
Increased anxiety and depression
Sexual harassment is inherently stressful. Even if you manage to maintain your professional demeanor in the face of harassment, you may experience an increase in anxiety and depression. While medication may help with these, you can expect your symptoms to continue even after the harassment comes to an end.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Depending on the nature of the sexual harassment you face, you may be vulnerable to post-traumatic stress disorder. This condition, which typically follows a distressing event or series of events, may last a lifetime. If you have flashbacks, nightmares or obsessive thoughts, you should seek treatment immediately.
It is not uncommon for victims of sexual harassment to develop learned helplessness, especially if employers do not take steps to stop inappropriate behaviors. With learned helplessness, you forget how to stand up for yourself. Learned helplessness also may convince you that sexual harassment is no big deal. This is not true, of course.
Ultimately, because you simply cannot risk your mental health, it is advisable to explore all available options for stopping sexual harassment in its tracks.