When longtime former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed suit July 6 for sexual harassment against the network’s former boss, Roger Ailes, the public response was less than kind. There were expressed disbelief and rebuttals that she was fabricating her story in retaliation for being fired.
Many asked: If it was so bad, why didn’t she come forward earlier?
As a trauma psychologist, I know her behavior was consistent with many women who experience various forms of sexual assault. Many women don’t tell anyone for a long time, if ever. And they typically don’t report these experiences publicly or to authority figures like the police.
People should remember that this type of delay is normal when they experience or hear about traumatic events. That applies to sexual assault, harassment and many other traumatic events.
Affirmation is comforting, blaming is not
When something bad happens, from an argument with a loved one to a flat tire or an unfavorable review at work or school, many of us want to reach out and tell someone we love. We look to them for confirmation of our perspective and occasionally for help in problem-solving. We particularly like it when that person tells us this was a crummy event and we’re not to blame for its occurrence.
But after traumatic events, such as physical or sexual assault, domestic violence or combat, that threaten to rob us of our dignity and spirit, people typically don’t tell others. In fact, many trauma survivors either never speak to anyone about what happened to them or wait a very long time to do so. The reasons for this are multi-fold and likely include shame, perceived stigma of being a “victim,” past negative disclosure experiences and fears of being blamed or told that the event was somehow their fault. And when it comes to reporting sexual harassment, women fear for their jobs, promotions or placements.
[For more of this story, written by Joan Cook, go to https://theconversation.com/wh...ter-they-occur-63248]