What is a reasonable response to sexual harassment?
Date: 8 February 2021
University of Exeter
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology
Sexual harassment is widespread and has multiple consequences on its targets. The issue of sexual harassment has gained a lot of attention in recent years, and it is often discussed as a negative behaviour that should be unacceptable, with consequences for those who perpetrate it. However, responses to those who come forward to report ...
Sexual harassment is widespread and has multiple consequences on its targets. The issue of sexual harassment has gained a lot of attention in recent years, and it is often discussed as a negative behaviour that should be unacceptable, with consequences for those who perpetrate it. However, responses to those who come forward to report their experiences remain unsupportive; their credibility and character are often questioned, while the actions and decisions they made after the incident are judged and sometimes used against them. These reactions to people who report sexual harassment presume that we know how people who have been sexually harassed should (or do) react to these situations, what decisions they make and why. The common expectation is that victims will immediately recognise what happened as a crime, decide to seek justice, and make a formal report. But do we really know how victims of sexual harassment or assault behave? There is evidence from government and third sector surveys that the majority of people who experience sexual harassment do not report it formally. Often they take no action at all. This discrepancy between what victims do, and how they are expected to behave, raises questions about what victims really feel, and what needs are served by the actions that they take, irrespective of what others might expect. This thesis aims to address these questions. Chapter 1 provides an overview of the thesis and Chapters 2 and 3 are dedicated to reviewing the relevant literature. Chapters 4 and 5 then summarise four studies we conducted to explore these issues. These studies focus on four different perspectives on what victims of harassment need and do in the in response to their experiences. Namely, we consider the perspectives of informal service providers, formal service providers, survivors of sexual harassment, and those who have never been sexually harassed but imagine how they would respond if they had. Finally, we conclude with a discussion in Chapter 6, which integrates the findings from Studies 1-4 and underlines the potential practical implications of our findings.
Item views 0
Full item downloads 0