Workplace Harassment: How to Find Peace Without Closure During COVID-19

Illustration of a woman looking down a hallway with many doors

The pandemic has left many of us in a state of limbo – important events have been postponed, social gatherings delayed, and everyday habits upended. This lack of forward motion can be especially challenging after you made the difficult decision to report ongoing sexual harassment.

If you were filing a complaint or having one reviewed, it’s likely your case has been put on the back burner as COVID-19 forces human resources professionals to turn to other organizational challenges. Or perhaps you were laid off leaving the outcome of your case permanently unsettled.

When you’re left with the responsibility of processing someone else’s wrongful behavior toward you, it can cause you to question yourself, leading to feelings of guilt, shame and loneliness.

Reclaiming your life and confidence can be difficult but not impossible. 

As you work to preserve your mental health and well-being, remember:

You are not alone. In a recent study, 38% of women and 14% of men reported experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace. Not all survivors file formal complaints, but the pandemic has likely thrown many of these misconduct cases into uncertainty.And countless others who have dealt with the criminal justice system to hold their accusers accountable have long understood the feeling of being marginalized by a slow, frustrating process. When you are ready, organizations such as the National Sexual Violence Resource Center have resources available to support you.
Define what accountability is for you. We all want to be heard and to have our experience validated. It is only natural to look to leadership for both, but you can choose what justice and accountability look like for you. Just remember, even if a system doesn’t hold the offender accountable, it doesn’t mean that your experience is less real.
Be patient with yourself. Your journey back to your true self belongs to you. Everyone processes their experience differently. There isn’t a specific timeline or event that you need to target. The focus should be on you and what you need to recover. Healing and closure look different for every survivor.

If you are in need of professional help, please seek out telehealth options or contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673). As RALIANCE’s Executive Director Ebony Tucker recently opened up and shared her feelings and thoughts on self-care, you can also visit here weekly for a reminder that we are with you.  

For additional mental health resources, check out Mental Health AmericaNational Alliance on Mental IllnessMove to End ViolenceThe Womxn Project, and MeToo.

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