Safety first. A person who has been sexually assaulted needs to be safe. They should not be in the same environment as their assailant. They should not have to confront the accused person. Survivors need to be believed, protected and given all options to seek justice.
Both men and women can be victims of sexual assault, while 98% of offenders are men. Sexual assault is not about sex, it is about power. Sexual harassment is an overwhelmingly under reported problem.
Your choice is what’s best for you.
Choosing to speak about what you’ve been through to someone you trust is vital. This person can be anyone and does not need to be a police officer or your company. Finding other survivors helps. Reaching out to a therapist and women’s advocates is a great self care path after sexual assault.
It is your choice if you want to report the sexual harassment you’ve endured to the police, your company or your union. This can be re traumatizing. Sharing your story with a reputable/trusted journalist or outlet has become a popular choice as well as seeking legal remedies.
Rape test kits are available in most hospitals, and crew members have used them in cities outside of their home base. Know that using a rape test, as well as making a police report is an added component to documenting what happened to you.
What happened to you is not ok, not your fault, and it needs to stop. There is often little
to no understanding about consent in toxic work cultures or complicity. Anti harassment contracts and promises are often broken resulting in the silent epidemic we are experiencing today.
It is essential to know that you are not alone. You may not find help where you’d expect it, but you will be surprised by the people who step up to support you. Let’s find each other.
Find a community that has been through what you have been through. Online or in person, whatever works. There are women’s organizations growing strong across the world. Google your nearest one, join a Facebook advocacy group, or follow someone on social media who is in a same or similar plight. Showing up to a local rally or protest can be a great way to find support.
The Legal route
If you have gone through the gamut of reporting, as many have, and feel unsatisfied with how your company dealt with your sexual harassment complaint, you may want to consider legal action.
Contact lawyers in your area that have dealt with systemic workplace issues. This can be tough because as we all know sexual harassment complaints are hard to prove, but with the current #metoo movement, court action is becoming a more popular route for relief.
This can be hard to navigate, but is becoming easier as more women come forward and share their experiences. Seeking justice satiates the need for widespread change.
Many loose their jobs after making a report like this. If you cannot afford to take the risk, try to first pursue internal resolve by teaming up with other employees who have been similarly mistreated, and coworkers who will stand up as allies. It’s possible someone else will be in a position to lead a legal fight.
Request your work records
Ask for your employee work records ASAP. It can usually be done via email, or directly through your manager. It is important to understand how, if at all, your company has dealt with your sexual harassment or assault complaint. Most companies have a policy which tells you the types of records they keep, and how long it takes to produce them once you’ve requested them. You’ll want all and any documentation the company has on you and your complaint. Documents and documenting is critical if you are seeking justice through legal action.
Request your police records
If you have already filed a police report, it’s a good option to ask for a copy of those documents also. You can request any written, or video/ audio recordings that were obtained by police when you made your report. They are helpful to have, particularly if there are others who others have filed a complaint about the same person.
Non Disclosure Agreements
These are contracts often used by employers after receiving sexual harassment complaints. It is, in all essence, a gag order. Both parties agree to not talk about the problem or complaint in the future, being otherwise subject to huge penalties.
It is common for flight attendants to be asked to sign NDAs after making sexual assault complaints. Corrosive cultures use these types of tools to silence individuals, while sexual harassment becomes normalized.
A legal loophole. Often enforced by U.S. companies, but a globally used tactic. It is a mandatory meeting between the employee who makes a sexual harassment allegation and the accused (victim and rapist). The meeting is contractually binding, and is orchestrated by the company’s representatives. They will also call on these types of meetings when a former employee wants to get their job back after making a sexual harassment complaint which they consider not forced.
Gretchen Carlson, a former Fox News employee who won a lawsuit against her company for sexual harassment, explains the importance of challenging forced arbitration meetings like this;
“When a woman comes forward with a sexual harassment claim, and she has an arbitration clause in her contract nobody ever knows about it. She’s basically given up her 7th amendment right to an open jury process. So she’s sexually harassed, she files a claim, her claim goes to arbitration. The company in most cases picks the arbitrator. Only 20% of the time the employee wins. There are no appeals.”