Sexual assault is not a crime of dark alleys and unknown places. It is unfortunately at the surface of everyday life, as demonstrated by the recent accusations of sexual assault against famous leaders and the #metoo campaign.
This can include your workplace. Most victims know their perpetrators whether they are a family member, friend, coworker or former lover. If you suffer sexual assault or rape at the hands of a coworker, there are additional considerations since your workplace may be liable too. Here is what you need to do if a coworker sexually assaults you.
It is difficult to report these incidents because of the feelings of helplessness and shame accompanying these incidents. At the very least, you need to report the assault to your workplace even if you decide not to file a police report.
is with a report sent via email. That provides instant documentation that you placed your employer on notice. Also, some victims find it easier to communicate in writing. Note the date, time, and location of the assault, if that information is available to you. If it occurred during work hours or a work-sponsored event, indicate that fact too.
Since sexual assault is a criminal matter, especially if you were raped, you are within your rights to report the incident to the police. Do not allow guilt or shame to affect this decision. If you were a crime victim in any other circumstance, it is doubtful you would be concerned about the offender’s career prospects and image. It is not your report that destroys those attributes but the actions of the guilty party.
If you make a police report, you may be asked to undergo a medical exam. Keep in mind that if you consent to this exam, you have the right to be accompanied by a victim advocate throughout the process.
Mental distress, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are common after a sexual assault. PTSD occurs in 94 percent of women in the two weeks following a rape. Approximately 70 percent of victims face moderate to severe mental health symptoms, which is a larger percentage than for other types of violent crime.
It is unlikely that you will be able to handle these symptoms on your own. Your fear response will be greatly amplified and activities you may have once accomplished with little thought can become impossible. People often report feeling nervous in crowds or afraid to face the world alone after facing sexual assault. Even going to the grocery store becomes a stressful panic-inducing event.
To handle this trauma, you require mental health care. Counseling and support groups will help you feel less alone and also teach you how to cope. This is vital for continuing with your previous routines and maintaining a quality of life.
Trauma can affect memory. You may remember facts at the time you report but find they retreat to a dark recess of your mind later. It is also common for memories to emerge in time, especially if you are receiving mental health treatment. This is normal and part of recovery.
When you report the incident, keep a copy of the form or email. Do not rely on workplace email servers or human resources to keep a complete file. As memories start to surface, write those down too. Even if the facts are not helpful to a criminal or civil case, they could be instrumental to helping your treatment and recovery.
Call an Attorney
If you are raped or sexually assaulted by a coworker, consult with an attorney. Even if there is a criminal case in process, you could still have a civil course of action.
The sad fact is, sexual assault claims are not always taken seriously by workplaces. This is especially true if the perpetrator is well-liked or in a position of power. No one likes to confront power directly and that can work against victims.
So, even if you report the assault and press charges, your employer may not fire the perpetrator. Worse still, they may require that you continue working around that person and even finish projects with them. This can intensify trauma as it keeps the memories nearby and makes it feel like you do not matter.
If you face that situation after a rape or sexual assault, you may have grounds for a civil action. The attorneys at Davis Levin Livingston offer vast experience representing victims of workplace sexual harassment, assault, and rape. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.