This paper was a result of a request from a Fortune 100 company for a presentation to employees who were on final warnings for sexual harassment (but were too valuable for the company to let go). The first approach was an educational one but on subsequent discussions with human resources turned into a mental health insight into who harasses and what happens to their victims as a way of behaviour change and hopefully subsequent better conduct in their positions of authority, power or character. Here I layout the principal presentation outline and after thoughts.
Sexual Harassment is a continuing topic of discussion highlighting the dangers of predators in the workplace looking for victims to exploit. Harassment can come in the form of sexual, verbal, powerlessness and other situational circumstances against both gender employees. This can have a adverse effect on the persons employments status, performance and create a hostile, intimidating work environment.
In many countries the law on harassment is not consistent or clear to many victims Police attitudes to sexuality colour their attitude to complainants. Fear of losing face, embarrassment and the consequences of a complaint make the majority of females refuse to report and continue to suffer. Although in several polls from 1991 to 1998 the level of harassment reported fell this changed after 2016 when the MeToo#.com campaign to openly name and shame members of the film industry initially and then to further areas of employment, dramatically increased complaints, but also many outside the statute of limitations. However this also increased false claims and band-wagoning for those looking for the limelight and publicity (often from failed actresses with a grudge for example). The figures from polls are generally unreliable as either over reporting, sensationalizing or invalidity in the lack of randomization of a given population.
So who gets harassed? Targets are often female with a male perpetrator, the target has less power, the behaviour is repeated, repeated requests from the target to stop and organization policy soft on predators. Others targets maybe of colour, alternative sexuality, disability and socioeconomically dependent.
Moral Dilemma & Perceptionï¼š
When is a compliment harassment? If a large proportion of married couples and long term partners meet at work how can we prevent normal human attraction? The way in which we accept attention often depends on their personal history. Being a past victim of abuse, unhappy relationships may view flirtation as threatening where as another with happier development might welcome the attention and enjoy the moment. In many cultures and radical religions, women are still seen as the property of men – second class citizens and to serve men’s needs. They have no rights. Cultures often including those with a tradition of FACE, never report harassment so as not to embarrass their family, or to lose face with friends – men in such societies have more power over women employees who they know will not report them.
Therefore HR departments need to look more openly at prevention and protection. Companies need clear harassment statements based on the realities of their people. If you are a victim there should be a clear reporting system that maintains confidentiality. Both accuser and accused have equal rights (beware of manipulation.) HR should follow the victim’s wishes not the companies policy. HR should not protect the company or senior executives as their first priority. In fact HR personnel should face criminal charges for putting the companies interests first.
To explore what type of person that sexually and mentally effects another in a corporate environment.
To Explain victimization – why do some employees become victims – why do they submit to harassment and few even making a complaint? What treatment options and remedies are there for both predators and victims of harassment?
The Persecutor – Type One
Usually in a position of authority over the victim. Thinks consequences unlikely. Uses coercion – threats implied or real. Offers gifts, support, promises and protection. Creates a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness in the victim.
Personality – assertive, aggressive, controlling, critical. Figure of authority – must be obeyed. Feels they deserve respect and pleasing. Lack of empathy – no pity for the victim. Once satisfied loses interest in the victim and moves to the next target.
The Persecutor – Type Two
The Groomer, looks for vulnerable persons, compliments that go from casual to more personal. Lunch, dinner invites – to listen – to help. Creates trust, obligation and dependency. Victim feels no way out – care for the persecutor – owes them something.
Personality – Friendly, caring, supportive, listener, no fear of consequences. Creates trust, obligation, warmth, reciprocation. Genuinely cares for the victim, looking for constant sexual favours, no commitment outside of work. No empathy for the victims position.
Victim of Type One
Subordinate, insecure, fear of reprisals. Coerced into secrecy – feels obligation. Flattered by interest from an authority figure. Special place in the office, factory, group, team. Social comparison – I am not good enough – others are better than me.
Victim Damage Type One
Aftermath – loss of face – feels victimized. PTSD – flashbacks, panic attacks. Attitude change – Don’t be close – Don’t be you. Long term mental health issues with both relationships and sex. 80% leave the job within two years.
Victim of Type Two
Vulnerable – timid – needy – attention seeking. Shares problems, seeks a listener, wants attention, likes compliments and flattery. Responds to flirtations as humour. Trapped by obligation – feels they owe something, need to pay a price.
Victim Damage Type Two
Loss of trust. Ambiguity about their part in the abuse. Feelings of blame and guilt. Attitude change – I deserved it. Don’t be close. Most likely to become a victim again. Long term mental health issues over self esteem. Leaves job as quickly as possible. Financial loss and benefits for support.
Persecutor Treatment / Action Plan:
Counselling – Type One
Resistant to change – takes longer to accept responsibility. Cognitive behavioral therapy for confronting past behaviour. Educational approach with Transactional Analysis – drama triangle etc. Acceptance of future loss of position and income.
Counselling – Type Two
To face up to egotistical need to manipulate others. To examine their sexuality and drive to express their need for conformation of being accepted in a real relationship. To move from a Child state to an Adult state of action in everyday functioning.
Victim Treatment / Action Plan:
Counselling – Type One
Relive the trauma through supported listening and insightful interaction. Recognize they are a victim of an event but not to be a victim for life. To not transfers positive emotions to negative feelings. To relearn trust – to be open, honest and authentic in the future.
Counselling – Type Two
To accept they were an innocent victim. That they were groomed and raise their self esteem. To tackle their own vulnerability that made them a target in the first place. To not reject future genuine relationships.
A Word on Legality:
Type One – Public disgrace – time in prison – loss of family – loss of prestige and income. Blames the victim for their dilemma.
Type Two – Publicly exposed – loss of face- time in prison- blames themselves- more likely to re-offend
A Word on Witness’s
Men think: sympathy for persecutors as victims too. Perceives victims as playing the victim.
Women think: they asked to be a victim – no sympathy – empathy only from other victims. Played the game and got burned.
End of Presentation
This presentation was designed for one hour to a small groups of offenders. The idea being that they face up to their responsibility in the action of abuse and that they accept they need treatment – also the understanding that their harassment has long term mental health damage to their victims. This then as a first step to a full treatment plan under the guidance of a clinical psychologist. Individual therapy and group acknowledgment both have a role to play in treatment options. Counselling for victims is more common as they themselves seek out help for their emotional turmoil. Persecutors of harassment are more likely to avoid treatment as they are convinced in many cases they minimize the damage the victims suffered.
Myler S. F. (2006 – 2019) Clinical case files. Types of Persecutor / Victim in Harassment (original work).
CNN/ Time Poll (1991 – 1998)
DOD Survey (1988 – 1995)
Martin G (2018) Linked-in publication – Cupid’s Arrow Will Hit At Work – So Deal with It!
Noteï¼šreferences are not linked in the text as this would take away the focus on content. Much of the background research was done in confidential circumstances so are not acknowledged in the text. Thank you for your understanding.