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Victims are often blamed after sexual harassment or assault

You may have heard that people are sometimes nervous to speak up after a sexual assault or sexual harassment in the workplace. There are many potential reasons for this, such as fear of losing a job, but one big issue is that others may tend to blame the victim.

One woman talked openly about her own experience, saying she felt like society itself blamed her for what had happened to her. She was in college at the time, and the university administration blamed her. She reported that she'd talked with strangers about it, and they even blamed her, despite not knowing her or being around for the incident.

Somewhat surprisingly, she said that even her friends blamed her. They indicated that it was her fault for being in a place where the assault could happen, implying that she could have avoided it if she hadn't been there at the wrong time.

This can all really get into a person's head and even change the way he or she thinks about the event. The woman began to struggle with self-blaming, putting that stress on herself. She even said that, as she was doing it, she understood that it didn't make sense. But she could not keep from thinking that it had been, at least to some degree, her own fault.

If you've been harassed or assaulted in the workplace, it's important not to fall into the trap of thinking that it was your own fault. At the same time, make sure you know what legal protections you have. For example, if you're worried about losing your job for speaking up, you should know that it's illegal to fire someone in retaliation after such a claim.

Source: Everyday Feminism, "4 Ways to Overcome Self-Blame After Sexual Assault," Sian Ferguson, accessed April 20, 2017

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