Why Women Don’t Always Report Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Posted by: Chris

Over the last several months, countless sexual harassment scandals have made headlines. Some of the women that are participating in these stories are opening up about experiences that happened years ago. This has led many people to ask why it took them to long to report it if the harassment occurred so long ago. Some people even refuse to believe these women’s stories because of how long they waited to tell them. It may seem odd to some people that women don’t always immediately report sexual harassment in the workplace, but it’s much more common than you may think. Here are some of the many reasons why women choose to suffer in silence:

Fear of Retaliation

Many sexual harassment victims fear that speaking up will negatively affect their careers. They fear that they will be labeled as difficult to work with if they complain about someone else’s behavior, which would affect their ability to move up within an organization or find other jobs in the future. Sadly, it seems as if these fears are not irrational. One study found that two-thirds of people who complained about harassment experienced some type of illegal retaliation as a result.   

Disbelief or Blame

Some women feel there is no point reporting sexual harassment because no one will believe them. Others may think that whoever they report the harassment to will try to blame them for what happened instead of the harasser. For example, a Human Resources supervisor may tell a victim that she was sending mixed signals by acting friendly, so it’s not the harasser’s fault for thinking she was interested. This can be a humiliating experience for women, which is why many choose to avoid it altogether.


It’s common for women that have been harassed to try to downplay the incident in their minds. They may tell themselves that what they experienced is not so bad or that it may not even be considered illegal harassment. They may try to make excuses for the man by telling themselves that he didn’t mean to be so forceful or inappropriate. This is a normal reaction for victims of sexual harassment or assault, and it prevents many women from speaking out against their harassers.

If you have been sexually harassed at work, it’s strongly recommended that you report it.  Failure to report sexual harassment to your employer may prevent you from recovering the damages you suffered as a result of the harassment. Additionally, failing to report sexual harassment to the appropriate government agency can prevent you from ever pursuing a claim for the sexual harassment with the Courts. Contact our employment law attorneys to learn how we can protect your rights and seek justice against your employer. Please call Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. today at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with an experienced attorney.