As more people come forward as part of a “me too” movement to report claims of sexual harassment and abuse, the question of how prevalent is sexual abuse still remains.
Researchers at UC San Diego moved swiftly to put numbers behind the popular “me too” movement.
A study looked at 2,000 men and women just last month, and it found that sexual abuse is widespread, especially for women.
The report found that a staggering 81 percent of women and 43 percent of men have experienced some form of sexual harassment or sexual assault in their lifetime.
“The curtain has been pulled back on how endemic this problem is and how long it's been going on,” said Christine Palm, of Sexual Harassment Prevention, LLC.
She teaches sexual harassment prevention at workplaces in Connecticut and said one reason the stats are so high is due to repeat offenders.
“It is predominantly a behavior of power - of abuse of power. Usually, it is still men in power,” Palm said.
She said a power dynamic is also to blame.
“If a woman wants to get ahead in her career, it's very difficult to come forward with these complaints because it derails her success,” Palm said.
The study further found 77 percent of women experienced verbal sexual harassment, roughly half of women were sexually touched in an unwelcome way, and almost 30 percent of women surveyed are survivors of sexual assault.
“It's incumbent upon all of to examine our behavior, to understand what the law is, and to abide by it,” Palm said.
She added that the report should encourage more women to speak up about inappropriate behavior at work and beyond.
“And this is where women have the right to come forward and say your behavior is making me feel uncomfortable and it must stop,” Palm said.
Connecticut law requires sexual harassment training for companies of 50 or more employees.
This year the legislature is looking to require even more training and to make it easier to report incidents.
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