A 27-year-old medical resident in general surgery is sexu-ally
harassed by two men – the chief resident and a staff
physician at the hospital. She feels trapped. When one
of the men’s actions escalates to assault, she struggles to
find the strength and courage to report it.
When she finally does, will the outcome harm her even more?
The story, a fictional composite based on real accounts in our
research, is agonizingly familiar. The outcome is often worse.
When sexual harassment and assault occur in the context of an
institution – a school, the military, a workplace – the behaviour
of institutional leaders can become a powerful force in how the
From Susan Fowler’s poor treatment by Uber’s human
resources department to the silence of non-abusive men in
Harvey Weinstein’s orbit, our most powerful institutions often act
Over 25 years, my students and others have amassed a substan-tial
body of empirical work revealing the real psychological and
physical harm that institutions can do to those they betray.
However, if institutions want to do the hard work, they can help
victims and prevent violence in the first place – by choosing cour-age
instead of betrayal.
OFTEN BETRAY THEM
By Jennifer Freyd
begemot_30 / 123RF
HRPROFESSIONALNOW.CA ❚ CONFERENCE ISSUE 2019 ❚ 51