Sexual harassment is very common, both in general life and in the workplace. But in many cases, people will not report these instances of sexual harassment. If they do report them, it may come years or even decades later.
Outsiders will often ask why people don’t report this harassment immediately or why they wait so long. They may even phrase this as if it takes some credibility away from these accounts. But there are some good reasons why people don’t make these reports immediately.
Fear of ramifications
For the most part, the victim fears negative ramifications if they do report the harassment. For example, maybe they think that no one will believe them or that they, the victim, will be blamed for the event that occurred. They are worried about bringing this negative attention on themselves if there is no upside because the harassment is going to continue.
In many cases, the person who is committing the harassment may be in a position of power. Perhaps an employee is being harassed by a supervisor, a manager or even the CEO of the company. They worry about retaliation. If they report that their boss harassed them, wouldn’t their boss just fire them and end their career? Couldn’t they be blackballed in the industry?
The good news is that this type of retaliation is very illegal under U.S. employment laws. That doesn’t mean it never happens, but simply that victims do have legal options at their disposal to move forward through a complex situation like this. They must know exactly what steps to take.