Middle aged women have serious health problems because of sexual harassment

New study shows that being harassed or assaulted in workplace can have a major effect on women’s physical and mental health. People who were sexually assaulted suffer higher rates of depression, insomnia, anxiety and other disorders. Victims who were harassed, tend to have higher blood pressure and sleeplessness. These are facts taken from the studies published by JAMA Internal Medicine. This statistic is based on hundreds of women’s stories of harassment and abuse, which are decades old.

Just recently, Christine Blasey Ford, who is a Psychology professor in California accused Brett Kavanaugh, a very well-known nominee for the Supreme court in United states of America. She said that happened when they both were teenagers. Ford still suffers from PTS (post- traumatic stress), anxiety and phobias because of the assault that happened when she was going through puberty. Kavanaugh denied everything.

This study has more weight than any other studies with more participants, because all women were directly examined by different researchers and they were all evaluated by mental health professionals who did detailed assessments. Because studies that were done before, were based on surveys which are not accurate, and make it impossible to form or make a reliable statistic about people’s experiences and mental health.

When researchers started gathering data, they did not know that their study will go public, when everything these days that we are seeing in the headlines is either assault or harassment.  But the timing could not be better, because it shows how important these problems are. Dialogue needs to be initiated about intervention and prevention said Rebecca Thurston, who is a professor of psychiatry at Pittsburgh University.

The Study included 304 women, 40-60 years old who were enrolled originally because of menopause symptoms. They were asked questions like if they have ever been sexually harassed at the work place, physically or verbally and 19% responded “Yes”. Another question was

“Have you ever been pressured to have sexual relationships involving genitals?” 22% responded “yes”.

Here are how women who were assaulted and were not differ:

  • The ones who responded “yes” were 3 times more likely to have symptoms of depression and 2 times more likely to have anxiety or panic attacks.
  • Women who were sexually abused had higher blood pressure than those who responded “no” to questions.
  • Women who were harassed and abused and said “yes” to these both categories suffered from insomnia or had trouble sleeping at night.

Study has not described how many times each woman was harassed, it excluded smokers, women who are dealing with serious mental illnesses or those who were taking antidepressants or other medications for anxiety. Just because if these women were included in the study numbers would be higher and results should be a fact, the studies mission was to show that it is one of the most important triggers of mental issues and removing that from the picture could change women lives. What society needs now is to fight with every cell to stop this abuse and harassment by letting women speak out and not to make a cultural norm. Don’t judge but take every single catcalling “compliment” into consideration, listen and take women seriously when they are trying to share their experiences about this ongoing issue to be able to prevent and teach the new generations respect.