The month of April has been designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) in the United States. The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence. Women’s organized protests against violence began in the late 1970s in England with Take Back the Night marches. These women-only protests emerged in direct response to the violence that women encountered as they walked the streets at night. SAAM, originally set in October to raise awareness of violence against women. But as October began to focus more on the domestic violence awareness activities. Sexual assault advocates looked for a separate time of year to focus attention on sexual assault issues.

Many people don’t typically think of the workplace as a potential arena for sexual assault, but workplace abuse, sexual harassment and even rape are more common than you might think.
As part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the sexual harassment lawyers at the employment law firm of the Derek Smith Law Group urge employees and employers to be vigilant about sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.

Led by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center who do a great job of getting the word out and increasing public awareness, this annual campaign is also an opportunity for all NYC employers to take steps to ensure that their offices are safe from this growing problem in New York City, New Jersey and Philadelphia. Across the United States sexual violence disproportionately affects women — an estimated one in six American women will experience an attempted or completed rape at some point in her life and while men face sexual assault and sexual harassment, women are the most likely victims.

To prevent abuse and assault at work, employers should:

  • Maintain a firm anti-harassment policy
  • Let the company handbook and rules be easily accessible to all employees
  • Deal with any harassment complaints right away
  • Have all supervisors maintain a professional atmosphere in the workplace

If you have been sexually harassed or assaulted at your job, follow these steps:

  • Tell your harasser to stop. Make it clear the behavior is unwelcome.
  • Report the behavior to your supervisor and/or human resources representative.
  • Document all incidents of abuse or harassment.
  • Keep evidence of messages, emails, photographs and conversations.
  • If you have been assaulted, seek medical attention and report the incident to the police right away.
  • Consult a lawyer about pursuing legal action.

Sexual violence and harassment can include all unwanted physical contact and sexual experience, such as verbal sexual harassment. Sexual assault and sexual harassment cause psychological and physical trauma and many victims do not disclose sexual violence out of fear, embarrassment and sometimes shame. Those in the workplace may fear to lose their job or being isolated from their peers. While standing up for yourself may be difficult in the short term, in the long run, you reap the benefits.
The NYC sexual harassment attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC handles a multitude of cases that involve workplace sexual assault in New York City. For further information, please feel free to call us at 800-807-2209 for a free consultation at 800-807-2209 or click to contact us online.