What sexual harassment victims can learn from the Bob Filner case

Posted in Sexual Harassment on October 4, 2013

It has been over a month since Bob Filner disgracefully resigned from his position as San Diego’s mayor. Although much of the media attention has died down in recent weeks, the allegations against Filner continue to prompt discussion and highlight the problem of workplace sexual harassment.

Although Mr. Filner is a particularly high-profile figure, he was allegedly able to harass dozens of women before finally being taken to task. His case highlights two important ideas about sexual harassment that we’ll discuss in today’s post.

The first idea is that unless a sexual harasser is called out and held accountable, they will likely go on to harass others. According to the numerous allegations against him, Filner had been sexually harassing women for some years; first as a long-time U.S. Congressman and then as mayor.

When his former press secretary worked up the courage to take her allegations public, a wave of other alleged victims followed. This is one of the many reasons why it is important for sexual harassment victims to report the illegal behavior. In addition to standing up for themselves, they are also standing up for past victims and potential future victims of the person who sexually harassed them.

The second idea is that victims who come forward should be prepared to receive some skepticism and blowback, but this should not be a deterrent. Despite the fact that so many women accused Filner of harassment, and that many of these women were accomplished in their own careers, there were still critics who initially viewed the women as dishonest and opportunistic.

If you have been sexually harassed, please don’t let fear of skepticism keep you silent. Instead, just report the truth and let the facts speak for themselves. In the end, the critics don’t count.

Source: KPBS.org, “Filner Saga Exposes Hurdles In Reporting And Dealing With Sexual Harassment,” Amita Sharma, Sept. 24, 2013