How to protect yourself when you’re harassed

Posted by Jeremy Chew
September 1, 2017

Self-Published

How to protect yourself when you’re harassed

With the recent news of entrepreneur Cheryl Yeoh revealing that she was sexually harassed by Dave McClure, founder of business accelerator 500 Startups, more women in the startup industry has also come forward with their personal encounters. The most shocking part of Cheryl’s revelation wasn’t the harassment but how she received backlash for bringing up the issue. This comes to show that our society still deems women to be the weaker sex, even if they are of power. 

Another similar case to Yeoh’s happened to a reporter for TechCrunch. Catherine Shu’s personal encounter from being sexually harassed by 500 Startups Partner Tristan Pollock was brought to light just few weeks after the revelation of Yeoh’s case.  Shu recalled that the incident happened after a networking event at a restaurant where Pollock made aggressive advances towards her.     

There are many reasons women keep quiet when they are sexually harassed, and one of the main reasons is that they get criticized for it. As women tend to forgive easily, they also blame themselves thinking it was their fault for leading their perpetrator on. It is an ongoing viscous cycle as when she blames herself, insecurities will tend to arise. And it does not stop there. A woman also will think of how reporting the sexual harassment will affect the perpetrator as well as the rest of the company.

Sexual misconduct does not only happen at the workplace or outside the workplace, it can happen anywhere.  So here’s how you can protect yourself if you or any of your loved ones encounter any of these inappropriate behaviors.

Speak up

In situations like this, you have to be firm towards your perpetrator. At times, the responsible parties might not realize that their actions are offensive and you need to voice out that their behavior is unacceptable. This would be the first step towards dealing with the problem. In most cases, it will resolve the problem due to the fact that the perpetrator will stop this behavior out of a natural reaction for everybody’s sensibilities. On the other hand, the harasser would also want to avoid additional workplace tension. The sex discrimination might sometimes be dismissed as a joke, but if it escalates, it is considered a criminal matter. Additionally, if the problem is not resolved at this stage, you have at least done something that will leave the harasser on notice and which you find his or her behavior inappropriate.

Talk to someone

It is important for the victims of sexual harassment not to suffer in silence. This is because; if the harasser persists with his or her behavior you need to at least confide in someone. It could be your family member, colleague or superior. Talk to them about what has happened as you might need some emotional support. Although it might not be the most comfortable conversation, it can be vital information. On the contrary, you may prepare a letter to ensure that they know how you feel. You do not have to go to the extent of filing a lawsuit because someone who has power in the organization would be enough to resolve the issue.

Record the details

 This is probably one of the more important aspects as it can help you to build the case against the harasser. Since there will be a huge possibility that the harassment will take place without any witness, the best thing you can do is to keep a detailed account of what had took place. If it happens more than once, make sure to keep a record of any harassment episodes, your complaints, and any incidents related to the harassment. This includes frequency, location, date, time, person involved, and what was mentioned. 

File a report

If the harassment gets out of hand, the victim has the option to file a lawsuit in a civil or criminal jurisdiction. Both are equally important as the ruling differs between the two in terms of the poof. It is recommended to file for civil jurisdiction as the claims will be based on the balance of probability and the victim is only required to have 51 percent of the proof to win the case. Alternatively, the victim will have a decreased possibility of winning the case if he or she chooses to file under criminal jurisdiction. The reason is that the proof needs to be beyond sensible doubt that he or she was the victim of harassment. Moreover, there should be at least 90 percent explicit proof of the harassment.

In a nutshell, every victim should not suffer in silent due to the differing views on sexual harassment. We have every right to voice out and create awareness of this issue.

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Article written by Jillian Cheong from iPrice Group

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