The Health Effects of Sexual Harassment
By now, most people are fully aware that sexual harassment is a type of workplace discrimination that should not be tolerated. When it becomes public knowledge that a company or employer allowed such harassment to continue, that company is often the subject of public scrutiny and boycotts in addition to claims for damages by the victims in question. But, what about the victims themselves? Unfortunately, being a victim of sexual harassment can cause a variety of health issues that could last for many years to come.
Mental Health Concerns
The laws that address sexual harassment in the United States are primarily focused on the responsibility of employers to prevent, identify, and address instances of sexual harassment as a form of employment discrimination. The reality, however, is that the behaviors that constitute sexual harassment are actually forms of physical or emotional abuse. Therefore, it should come as little surprise that sexual harassment victims often suffer serious mental health effects.
The most common mental health diagnoses for sexual harassment victims include anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is especially common in situations where the harassment continues to the point of violence or assault. Even without acts of violence, the harassment itself can cause new anxiety or depression symptoms in victims, or it could cause the worsening of symptoms in those already suffering from these conditions.
Victims of sexual harassment are often made to feel that their worth is tied to their gender or sexuality, which can lead to a host of self-esteem issues. In some cases, these issues can last for many years, particularly if the harassment occurs early in a person’s career.
As with many other forms of abuse, sexual harassment could cause the manifestation of physical health issues in victims as well, even in cases that did not involve any physical contact. Depending on the situation, a victim’s psyche may register sexual harassment as emotional trauma, which could essentially overwhelm the body. When this occurs, the person may begin to exhibit a variety of physical symptoms, including but not limited to:
- Moderate to severe headaches
- Muscle and body aches
- Fatigue and malaise
- Hair loss
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Excessive weight gain or loss
- Flare-ups of existing autoimmune issues
Of course, if the harassment in question led to sexual violence, the victim may be dealing with other physical problems as well.
Including Treatment Costs in Your Sexual Harassment Claim
If you have been a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, and you are now experiencing physical or mental health issues as a result, you may be entitled to collect damages for your health problems. With the help of your attorney and your medical team, you will need to show that the health issues you are having were directly caused or exacerbated by the illegal behavior. These damages are just part of the overall compensation to which you may be entitled as a sexual harassment survivor.
Call an Illinois Sexual Harassment Attorney
At MKFM Law, we are committed to helping sexual harassment victims seek the justice they deserve. If you or someone you love has experienced sexual harassment at work, contact a Chicago workplace discrimination lawyer. Call 630-665-7300 to schedule a confidential consultation today.