From the Desk of the CEO - Sexual Harassment

 

It seems that almost daily we are assaulted with the news of another prominent figure using their status, power, and control to engage in the sexual harassment of women.  I use the word assaulted intentionally, for this news and behavior is an assault on all of us.  Clearly, it is an assault on the women who have endured it, who have feared for their employment, reputation, and status if they report what happened.  It is an assault on all of us that learn of it; hearing once again of women’s worth being reduced to that of a sexual object, something available to simply provide pleasure, their training, experience, important relationships, knowledge and expertise ignored.  It is an assault on the majority of men that treat women with decency, respect and appreciation.  It is an assault to all of us that have women and girls in our lives that we love and admire, and want the world to see and know them for their deeply complex beauty, skills, abilities, and importance.

I have heard many men, those in my family included, express feelings of surprise, shock and dismay as each revelation is released.  I haven’t heard this from women.  Unfortunately, it is rare to find a woman who has not experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault.  We have endured the shame, confusion, frustration, terror and fear of these experiences.  We have often seen things get worse when we speak out, or been told to “be quiet”, “don’t make it hard on yourself”, “just let it go”.

At PADV, we hear daily from women who have had violence, power and control used against them in terrible ways.  We see it destroy lives, both the lives of those victimized and the lives of those inflicting the abuse.  We see children scared, angry, and terribly confused about what it means to be a boy or a girl in this world.  We know that we as families, communities, and a nation must do it differently.  Hopefully the terrible stories we’re hearing about sexual harassment all over our country is making that clear to all of us.

Please join us at PADV as we strive to be the voice of something better.  Raise your children to know that boys and girls are both special, wonderful and valued and that all children must treat each other fairly and with respect.  Model appropriate, respectful behavior to all you come in contact with.  When you hear crude and inappropriate jokes being made, or someone being made fun off because of their gender, race, religion or national origin, speak up, be a voice for the voiceless, and encourage the person making the comment to be kinder and more caring. When someone shares with you their story of harassment or abuse, believe them and ask how you can help.  We can’t undo what’s happened, but we can use it as a strong motivator to actively work to make our homes, jobs, places of worship and entire community one of safety, respect, equality, and appreciation for all.