Every 73 seconds in America, someone’s body and dignity are being violated by a sexual predator. In addition, more than 433,000 Americans above the age of 12 become victims of sexual assault or rape every year. A total of 12% of rape or sexual assault survivors note that they were at work when the deed happened.
These alarming figures released by anti-sexual violence organization RAINN.org show that sexual assault is more common than you think. Moreover, every year, over 9,000 claims of sexual harassment in the workplace are filed with government agencies tasked to handle cases of this nature.
What’s even more troubling is the fact that there could be a bigger number of unreported cases of sexual harassment or sexual assault. These victims are often afraid to speak up because they feel that either nobody will believe them or they could face retaliation.
There’s no other mark on one’s person and dignity as lasting as the one caused by sexual assault.
After the deed, the victim ultimately becomes paranoid about their surroundings, besieged by the thought that the world is no longer a safe place. The traumatic experience may result in nightmares, flashbacks, or unpleasant memories of the tragic event.
To make it worse, survivors may distrust anyone, even themselves. They may even blame themselves for what happened and feel guilt and shame. These negative emotions may result in mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
How to overcome sexual assault
It’s natural to become afraid of everything and everyone right after a sexual assault. Know, however, that with time and effective legal and moral support, the fear and confusion will go away.
Here are some ways to cope with the trauma:
- Report the incident immediately. Don’t wait a second more after the deed has been done. As soon as you regain your bearings, immediately file a complaint against your attacker. When authorities ask you about what happened, it will be easier to recall details of the incident while it’s still fresh in your mind.
- Accept what happened. What’s done is done and that cannot be changed. But do not bottle up the hurt and anger. Find healthy ways to release your emotions like meditation or exercise.
- Things will get better. Remember that you got through other difficult times before.
- Prepare for the nightmares. Try to reassure yourself that the assault is over and that it is not real anymore. Breathe slowly (don’t hyperventilate) to calm yourself down after waking up from a nightmare or having an anxiety attack. A glass of cold water may also help.
- Return to your daily routines. Instead of giving in to negative thoughts, occupy yourself with any physical activity. Keeping yourself busy will derail these negative thoughts and replace these with more productive ones. By the time you’re done for the day, you’ll be more interested in getting some rest than overthinking.
- Find solace in family and friends. Believe it or not, there are still people whom you can trust. Don’t be afraid to reach out to these friends and loved ones. Open up about what happened and how you feel about it. Choose them wisely, though. Avoid those who may only invalidate your experience and worsen the situation.
- Seek medical help. Apart from the cuts, bruises, or fractures you may have sustained that need immediate medical attention, your feeling of brokenness also needs healing. Thus, psychiatric therapy is highly recommended to help you recover quickly and to avoid the downward spiral toward substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, and difficulty in functioning at work, school, and home.
Prevention of sexual harassment and sexual assault at the workplace
There are laws to protect workers against sexual harassment/assault in the workplace that employers should abide by. They are duty-bound to provide a safe working environment for those under their employ.
Here are some of the anti-sexual harassment/assault measures that companies must undertake:
- Adopt and enforce a clear policy. The company should be clear that it will not tolerate any form of harassment and discrimination. Those found in violation of this policy will be penalized severely. A procedure for filing a report against sexual harassment should also be included in the policy.
- Conduct training and seminars. Employers are obligated to put all employees from the staff to higher management on the same page with regard to the company-wide stance against sexual harassment.
- Take immediate corrective measures. If an employer receives a report of sexual harassment, the incident must immediately be investigated and resolved. In resolving cases of this nature, steps must be taken to penalize the offending party and to make sure that the assault will never happen again.
Let your sexual assault attorney fight for you. Get the most trusted sexual harassment lawyer in San Diego to represent you – Hogue and Belong. One of the premier law firms in California, this legal team is dedicated to seeking justice for sexual harassment and assault victims.