What Can Political Scandals Teach Us About Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment can happen in any industryPolitical scandals involving sexual harassment are as American as apple pie. Former President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinski, former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, New York lawmaker Vito Lopez– you get the point, and we could just keep going on for pages.

In many of the cases we have listed, victims have been interns and staffers. However, even lawmakers themselves have reported instances of sexual harassment. U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand publicly announced accounts of sexual harassment from other lawmakers, but was immediately shot down by an unempathetic press. We can learn a lot about how victims are affected by discussing political scandals involving sexual harassment.

Former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s political scandal is a good example to show how victims of sexual harassment can be affected.

A former female staffer who filed a lawsuit against him claimed she was groped and that Filner had tried to kiss her. At a recent news conference describing the lawsuit, this woman was visibly trying not to cry. She described how she was too scared to come forward out of fear of losing her job. This woman is probably not alone in feeling scared to speak up, a sentiment shared by victims from many different professions.

The Brutal Long-Term Effects of Sexual Harassment

Many victims of sexual harassment experience long-term depression. A University of Maine psychologist suggested sexual harassment can occur in an employee’s early twenties, and depression can linger into his or her 30s.

Employees who are sexually harassed can also experience post-traumatic stress disorder and insomnia. Fear of wrongful termination should never be a reason for not coming forward and discussing options with an attorney. The effects of sexual harassment can have implications for victims that last decades.



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