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Preventing Sexual Violence in the Workplace

Unfortunately, no place is completely safe anymore. Someone is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds in the U.S. [1] That means 570 people experience sexual violence every day. [2] As we have seen in the news with Harvey Weinstein, how much else is hidden in the dark?

Sexual violence permeates our culture in many ways. We have seen everyone from athletes telling women to keep quiet about their sexual advances in the past, to doctors being accused of sexual assaults on patients- it does not help that hit television shows and movies reinforce this culture. [2]

To give an angle why the Harvey Weinstein scandal is so troubling- see what Brit Marling had to share:

“Weinstein was a gatekeeper who could give actresses a career that would sustain their lives and the livelihood of their families,” she wrote. “He could also give them fame, which is one of few ways for women to gain some semblance of power and voice in a patriarchal world. They knew it. He knew it. Weinstein could also ensure that these women would never work again if they humiliated him. That’s not just artistic or emotional exile—that’s also an economic exile.” [4]

Most assailants get away with their actions because of fear of their victims coming forward. Whether that fear is because of discomfort, threats, or loss of employment - this is the reality.

To have a job in a safe environment is a reasonable expectation that all people should have. People have the right to be safe.  With the Harvey Weinstein scandal, we have seen people who are afraid to come forward when their careers are threatened. If famous people are afraid to come forward, then the average member of the workforce is truly at a disadvantage.

The repercussions for the victims of sexual assault can be devastating. It is noted that people who have been sexually assaulted are more likely to use drugs than the general public. [3]

  • 4 times more likely to use marijuana [3]
  • 6 times more likely to use cocaine [3]
  • 10 times more likely to use other major drugs [3]

Sexual violence also affects victims’ relationships with their family, friends, and coworkers. [3]

As a business owner or operator, safety should be number one priority. So how are employers expected to control this, and maintain a safe work environment? One of the first steps that can be taken is to perform pre-employment background checks. It does not take much time at all, and the cost is relatively low when weighed against the fallout from a bad person making it into the workplace. Companies such as SafeGuard Background Screening in Cleveland, Ohio can provide a wide-range of options from screening criminal history and checking sexual registries, to verifying past work histories and checking references. They provide plenty of resources to weed out potential threats to your employees. It not only makes sense from the obvious standpoint of protecting those employees who are targeting by such behavior but also the negative effects on the business and the other employees who can be impacted when the business suffers. There is a ripple effect.

Workers can all agree on one thing as a necessity in the workplace and that is safety.  According to Webster dictionary, safety is described as: “the condition of being safe from undergoing or causing hurt, injury or loss”. Not in just physical tense, but being valued and respected by your peers. No threats physically or emotionally. Sexual violence isn’t always a physical act, it can be harassment or verbal threat.

No gender safe. In the world of sexual violence, there are no barriers. No gender, no age-group, no race is entirely safe.  These statistics show anyone can be a victim. It is important to surround your work, school, and social environment with trusted and respectful people.

9 out of every 10 victims of rape are female

majority of sexual assault victims are under 30

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Although sexual crime has been on a slight decline, it is no reason to let your guard down. Do background checks and weed out bad apples.

Sources: [1] [2] [3] [4]

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