Society Effected by Sexual Harassment

Natalie Ventura, Reporter

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The feeling of fear and anxiety shivers down her back as she walks through the doors of the school, where she sees ‘him’ eyeing her like an object. “It’s a compliment,” he says as his hands move all over her body. He laughs in delight while she stands there not knowing what to do; she flashes a fake smile and pretends to enjoy his physical affection, instead of uttering the word “stop”. She struggles to understand what’s happening and the mental anguish lingers. Maybe she deserves this, maybe she asked for it. She stands in silence with a blank face, if only people could see the damage and discomfort that’s left in her.

Sexual harassment has become a vast issue affecting one in three women through sexual harassment at work, at school, and in open public places according to The Huffington Post. Most high school victims of sexual harassment do not realize that the way they are being treated constitutes sexual harassment. According to the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), being sexually harassed is the act of  “… unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” To those who are victims of sexual harassment, it leaves an impact on their lives and may generate a change in sentiment and self-esteem.

Sexual harassment is a reoccurring event that happens in places of education, including Piscataway High School. According to students, it takes place quite frequently and usually female students are the target.

According to ninth-grade Dean April Eyler, “Some women will stick up for themselves… while other girls take time to digest what just happened.”

When being harassed or assaulted, certain reactions seem to depend on the student and what they experienced. To most victims, they keep things to themselves since they are too scared to reveal the truth, fearing that others may trivialize their feelings.

Alba Alvarez a ninth-grade student explains the reason why she has not told anyone about her experience saying, “if I were to tell somebody, they’d treat and look at me differently.” Many women and girls are afraid that if they speak up, others will tell them that they are too sensitive, frigid, or that they overreact. 

When dealing with this type of misconduct, people tend to be silent about it because they feel embarrassed or that nothing can be done about what happened, which can take a toll on how the victim feels about themselves.

People, especially teenagers, are prone to overestimate the things that they do and say, especially in a sexual matter, and it has a big influence on a person. Ninth grader Kaitlan Armstrong stated, “It made me feel like I didn’t want to talk to boys anymore”. Additionally, the victims of these attacks feel as if they can not get over what happened and it greatly changes their attitude in life. According to recent studies, some victims have been diagnosed with anxiety, depression, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder due to the experiences they have been subjected to. This prompts that individuals should be aware of their verbal and physical behavior since it can create havoc on somebody’s life.

Alyssa Milano posts on her twitter and launches the “Me Too” campaign to prove to the world the immensity of the issue of sexual harassment and assault.

Sexual impropriety has begun to be identified in the Hollywood industry and people have started speaking out on the subject. Early last year, the Me Too movement came into the public’s eye. The Me Too movement was created to address sexual harassment and assault and to show the world the immensity of this issue. This movement sparked thousands upon thousands of people to speak up about their experiences and shine a light on ways to make a change.

“If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of magnitude on the problem,” actress Alyssa Milano wrote on her twitter.

Celebrities such as Millie Bobby Brow, Katherine Langford, and Tracee Ross wore black to stand against sexual harassment.

At the annual Golden Globes ceremony, all celebrities who attended wore black to stand in solidarity against sexual harassment and inequality as well as dedicate the show to the Time’s Up legal defense fund, which is a group created to support those who have been sexually taken advantage of in the workplace.

Actress and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey stated in her acceptance for the Cecil B. DeMille Award, “For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up,” showing that the time is now for women to step up and reveal the truth of what they experienced, to not feel embarrassed or afraid of what happened, and to change inequality in the workplace.

With the cases of sexual harassment gaining noteriety, it has brought individuals who were unfamiliar with the subject a new understanding of the power struggles associated with it.  According to freshman Caron Bright, “…with women coming out about sexual harassment, it has taken a toll on society, women have started to come out and stick up for themselves. It’s given them confidence and they don’t have to be afraid of being shunned.”

People have come to the realization that the attacks they suffered are not their fault and that it is okay to seek help. Ways that somebody could reach help is to contact or confide in a trusted authority figure such as a parent, teacher, or counselor. Also, victims can seek out therapy as a way to seek treatment and cope with their experiences.