In Sexual Harassment, the ‘Trauma Lives Past the Event’

One in three workers have experienced sexual harassment; 71% of them didn’t report it.

Avery Francis is not part of that 71%.

As too many of these stories go, this is where we would expect to hear how HR ignored her complaint. But just the opposite happened, Francis told her DisruptHR audience in Toronto last winter: “I was happy with how everyone handled it. I felt supported. I felt trusted. I felt like I was listened to.”

“So what went wrong?” she asks her audience. Nothing. At least nothing that the company did was wrong. Just the opposite. After reporting being harassed in a closet after a company social, HR did the right thing. The company CEO supported her. Five days after the incident, the offender was fired.

But what went wrong, Francis explains to her rapt audience, is that “The trauma lives past the event.” The emotional scars left by the incident haunted her to the point she had a breakdown. Less than a year later, she left her job.

Her message — made all the more powerful by being so personal — is that all of us, when we see something, say something. And believe the victims when they come forward. And most of, says Francis, “I want  you to be brave like I’m being brave right now. I want you to come forward and share your story.”

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