The Residual Effects of Sexual Harassment

Donna Dean, PhD: The Residual Effects of Sexual Harassment

How to survive the aftermath of a sexual harassment incident.

Video Transcript

Dr. Donna Dean's Bio

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Transcript: The Residual Effects of Sexual Harassment

Well fortunately, with the particular professor who clearly wanted sex for a passing grade, fortunately I didn't have to take anymore courses from him. Fortunately, I had gotten all of the required courses that he taught, so I didn't have to worry about that. There was a bit of awkwardness I would say on my part, and I think for a period of time, I sort of felt like I was sort of a tainted woman, and I actually felt kind of dirty. Not because I had done anything wrong, but that I allowed this whole scenario to make me feel dirty. There was something wrong with me, and there was nothing wrong with me but it did make it awkward for a while just being in the department and knowing this guy was this way.

I always made sure when we would have departmental seminars that I sat on the other side of the room, and I literally just tried to totally avoid him. Because, frankly, I just didn't want to be associated with him. Otherwise, I think in the department, it was not—it didn't seem to be to anybody else to be a problem. It was almost like everyone knew why I and the other woman in the course were auditing it, and it was sort of the dirty little secret that everybody knew about. But, as the subsequent classes came in after us, the women in those classes were told be careful when you take this class from this guy.

The folk wisdom was passed by them and, frankly, I think after a while—I mean obviously I still remember it, but I do not remember it making a difference at the time about how I felt, because I figured I could either let this make me feel bad about myself, or I could just pick myself up and just say, "Okay let's move—let's just move on." And the fact that he left the department three years later, I think was not unrelated to this behavior and activity. I suspect he was probably encouraged to look for employment elsewhere even though he was a tenured professor.

I did feel a degree of awkwardness. I did feel a new sense of professional warmth towards the faculty members in the department, again, all male; because there were a few faculty members who stood up for us and sought to find a workable solution which I think we did get a workable solution, so I always felt very positively disposed to them, and I think some of the faculty members were probably totally clueless that any of this had gone on.

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