Dealing with the effects of sexual harassment: A survivor speaks out and urges others to come forward

11/09/2017 04:00 PM

For many who survive sexual harassment the effects are long lasting.

For Michelle Kelty who was sexually harassed in the workplace three-years ago, the trauma continues to this day. Kelty said she suffers from flashbacks, nightmares and continues with therapy.

“I reported, it wasn’t just me, it involved more than just myself in the workplace, so we reported and we just kept hitting roadblocks and obstacles,” she said.

Kelty is a member of the Survivors Council which advises and assists the Office of the Kentucky Attorney General to ensure that their efforts are victim-centered, effective and responsive to the needs of diverse victims.

“There are holes in the system all over the place, there’s just so much victim blaming that makes it so hard to step forward,” Kelty said.

Gretchen Hunt, who leads the Office of Victims Advocacy within the Attorney General’s Office, said one-in-three women experience sexual harassment nationally. In Kentucky, one-in-two women are victims of sexual violence, she said.

For those suffering from sexual harassment now, Kelty said she would love to tell them to come forward, but recognizes it is difficult.

“The very first thing I would say is get out,” Kelty said.

Hunt said there are a variety of venues to seek help, either from their own corporation or institution to report harassment, as well as hiring an attorney and or reaching out to one of the 13 rape crisis centers in the commonwealth, as well as the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs.

Hunt said businesses and institutions should have well defined policies and procedures put in place that are both offender focused, saying what conduct is not permissible, but also have policies that are victims’ centered.

“I think just having a law or policy in place is just not the only thing that you need to do, you need to be really giving life to that policy and training on it, and from the top down leadership needs to say this policy is also our values.”

The Survivors Council is also planning on sharing recommendations on how to make laws in the commonwealth more victim-centered.”


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