Victim of workplace sexual harassment? You may not be alone

CHANDLER, AZ - For more than a decade, Rebecca Currie has guided victims of workplace sexual harassment, but she says very few actually file a complaint.

"It's not easy, it's a difficult thing and a scary thing to report sexual harassment to a supervisor," said Currie while sitting in her Chandler office at Lifeline Professional Counseling Services.

Whether it's at a cubicle or in the break room, sexual harassment, according to Currie, is common.

"I would be surprised to hear that people are surprised that it's common, because it seems so much a part of everyday life," Currie said.

Currie says many victims do not report or make sexual harassment claims because they fear they will lose their job or cause problems in the workplace with other employees.

"You have to decide, is it worth it and for many, usually it's not," Currie said.

If you do decide to follow through on a complaint, Currie says prepare.

"Take notes, write down the dates and times and what was said and try and get a witness to the harassment," said Currie. "These are the types of things I help people with."

For those who choose not to make a complaint, Currie said they should still talk to someone about the incidents and their feelings.

"I would really encourage them to speak to a counselor, you're going to feel better just telling someone about it," said Currie. "Maybe one percent of the victims that come to me and talk about it ever do anything about it at work."

Currie can relate to those who don't file a complaint.

"I'm a victim too, it's happened to me, that's why I can empathize with them and guide them and talk about it," Currie said.

Samantha Palecki knows the feeling well, she is now a counselor after dealing with sexual harassment at work.

"He (former boss) would refer to me as sweetie or sweetheart and eventually started winking and stuff at me," said Palecki while sitting in Currie's Chandler office.

Palecki said she reported the incidents and things changed, but not the way she wanted.

"We would just constantly hit heads at work and it got to the point where I quit my job there because there was nothing else to be done," Palecki said.

She said she has no regrets over leaving, but understands the difficulty for others.

"I wasn't going to be sweetie anymore, I was going to be Samantha," Palecki said.

It's not just women who are victims.

"I have several male clients and one in particular has the same feeling, a powerless feeling that includes fear if he were to launch a complaint," said Currie.

 

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