Article written By Dr Nikki Pallotta.
When I interviewed for my first social work position in an outpatient mental health center, the Chair of the department told the staff that I got the position because I had a great ass. At the time, I didn’t know how to respond, it was 1977. Just out of school and needing a job, I didn’t feel I had the luxury not to accept. I constantly questioned if I deserved the job, was it because of my ability or was it because he was attracted to me. I avoided him as much as possible but I constantly felt I had to prove myself and show that I was capable. I felt extremely alone.
At the time we didn’t label this behavior as “Sexual Harassment “and we didn’t have #METOO, but I felt violated and was not able to shake being uncomfortable in his presence.
This doesn’t happen to only the rich and famous, it happens to women with regular jobs in everyday life. Long term affects can cause trauma.
For a woman who has experienced sexual harassment, it is quite common for her to demonstrate symptoms of trauma including the following:
• Anxiety and/or panic attacks
• Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
• Sleeplessness and/or nightmares
• Shame and guilt
• Difficulty concentrating
• Fatigue or loss of motivation
• Difficulties with time (forgetting appointments, trouble managing time)
• Stomach problems or gastrointestinal disorders
• Eating disorders (weight loss or gain)
• Feeling betrayed and/or violated
• Feeling angry or violent towards the perpetrator
• Feeling powerless, helpless, or out of control
• Increased blood pressure
• Loss of confidence and self esteem
• Overall loss of trust in people; problems with intimacy
• Problems with sex (sexual dysfunction)
• Withdrawal and isolation
• Suicidal thoughts or attempts
A woman reacting to trauma often starts with shock and then moves into denial; this Is then followed by feelings of victimization that impact self-esteem and one’s ability to function. Seeking a counselor can help the victim understand sexual harassment, understand that she did not encourage it and should not sink into feelings of fault or guilt.
A counselor can also help the person regain a sense of control over her life. The following are a variety of therapies that have been successful in treating trauma:
• Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
• Exposure therapy
• Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
These therapy types offer different strategies to help a person overcome the impact of trauma in her life.
Dealing with trauma is not something people can do without assistance. You need to explore the underlying feelings that the trauma has created and learn healthy ways to handle these feelings. You do not want to turn to drugs or alcohol to numb yourself from these feelings.
Sexual Harassment Survivor Program
Recovering from sexual harassment, sexual assault or abuse is a process, and that process looks different for everyone. It may take weeks, months, or years… there’s no timetable for healing. See More…