In January of this year, a former coworker of mine came forward and filed a formal complaint with the Los Angeles Police Department.
The coworker claimed she was harassed by her boss for being a lesbian, and the coworker also reported sexual harassment by her former boss at work.
The Los Angeles County district attorney, citing insufficient evidence, closed the case without filing charges against her.
But this incident is not unique.
I’ve written about workplace harassment for nearly two decades.
In my previous column, I detailed the cases of several women who had to endure workplace harassment, including from their male bosses, by colleagues, or in front of their male co-workers.
The problem is, the same can’t be said of sexual harassment.
A recent study published in Psychological Science found that women who report sexual harassment are more likely to be subjected to retaliation and discrimination than their counterparts who don’t report harassment.
The study was conducted by two professors at the University of British Columbia, who found that a majority of female respondents to their survey reported experiencing some form of workplace harassment or sexual assault.
But the majority of women who reported harassment said they were “uncomfortable reporting the incident,” and a significant number of them reported having “negative experiences” with their harassers.
“Men’s reactions to women reporting harassment were significantly different from women’s reactions,” the study’s lead author, Professor Michelle Williams, said in a press release.
In the study, women who were “overly cautious in reporting” sexual harassment reported having higher levels of self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy than women who “did not feel that they were being adequately heard or supported.”
“These are the same kinds of responses women report in other contexts in which they face workplace harassment,” Williams said.
A new study from the University in British Columbia published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that men who reported being harassed reported higher levels “of aggression and hostility” than men who did not report harassment, and that men reported higher rates of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder than women did.
This finding is not surprising, as women report that men experience a range of different types of harassment at work, including unwanted sexual attention, inappropriate touching, and unwanted sexual advances.
And it’s worth noting that the men in these studies were not all male.
The researchers asked men and women to read two different scenarios, one where they were given the option to choose either “no” or “yes” and they were then asked to rate the experience of both scenarios on a scale of 1 to 10.
Women reported experiencing higher levels in both scenarios, but the men’s scores were higher, suggesting that women were more likely than men to experience harassment, the researchers report.
But what about men who report being sexually harassed?
While the study did not find a link between sexual harassment and sexual assault, the results of the study were similar.
In both studies, men who were harassed reported significantly higher levels than women, and there was no difference in the rate of sexual assault between men and men who didn’t report being harassed.
So the next time you hear a colleague or coworker talk about sexual harassment, ask yourself if they’re truly comfortable sharing their experiences with you.
This article originally appeared on The Conversation.