Intent versus impact -- workplace sexual assault and harassment
June 20, 2013
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- The act of sexual harassment may start as a simple comment, touching, staring, licking one's lip or a picture on the wall.
To the perpetrator, this display of behavior may or may not be sexually intended. However, the individual receiving the message may find it offensive.
The impact far outweighs the intent.
Sexual harassment and sexual assault have a dramatic effect on the victim, workplace and the community.
Victims of this behavior may become isolated, depressed, have difficulty with trust, excessive absenteeism and post traumatic stress disorder.
In the workplace, sexual harassment or assault can cause an inability to accomplish goals and mission, low morale and loss of trust among workers.
Sexual harassment is gender discrimination that involves sexual advances, a request for sexual favors and any other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
It is not the intent, but is the perception and impact which determines whether or not an act is sexual harassment.
If this behavior is not addressed in a corrective manner, it may cause a tense work situation and increased acts of the behavior.
Uncorrected sexual harassment may or may not lead to sexual assault.
Sexual assault is intentional sexual contact by use of force, a physical threat or abuse of authority.
The individual receiving this act does not give his or her consent.
Sexual assault is forcible, without regard to the unwilling victim.
Many studies on the subject state the perpetrator assaults the victim for self-gratification, rather than affection for the victim.
There continues to be a socially acceptable attitude regarding sexually harassment and sexual assault.
Many people tend to say that as long as the act doesn't involve them, they will not get involved.
It is because of this attitude that sexual assault and harassment continue in the workplace.
There should never be a passive bystander to harassment of any nature. Each of us has a responsibility to eradicate this behavior at the depot.
Whether it is a simple remark, touching or some other sign of sexual harassment, put the individual(s) on notice by telling them it is offensive and is not part of the Army's standard.
Report the behavior to your supervisor or individual in charge.
Leaders must monitor work areas for displays of behavior and conduct that is of a sexual nature and take a proactive approach in counseling individuals on Army values and expectations as depot employees.
The leaders may seek advice on how to utilize available tools to eradicate sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace.
All employees must be aware of the commander's policy letter regarding sexual harassment and assault. There is no tolerance for this behavior in the workplace.
The impact of these acts is far more harmful than the intent. We each must do our part to ensure ANAD is a workplace free of all harassment.
The point of contact for sexual harassment and sexual assault is Timothy Rolfe, ACS Director. He may be reached at 256-235-7971. If you wish to file a sexual harassment complaint, contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Office at 256-235-6201.