Sexual abuse or bullying in the workplace is a leadership issue. Due to the global attention, the time is now to stop the enabling or covering up and giving lip service to this horrendous behavior in our society.
It should be a human right to be able to go to a place of work, free of harassment and bullying and the predatory behavior of some co-workers or leaders.
Too many Islanders are suffering the scars of sexual abuse. As a former military counsellor, I have witnessed with frustration, firsthand the effects of members suffering from abuse. Tragically I know of many of these members that have committed suicide. To the military’s credit, they first started to change the culture in the 1990s, by creating programs which allowed its members to report incidents of abuse. However, you can’t rapidly change a culture that has been well ingrained in any organization.
I commend the Canadian Forces recent approach of having zero tolerance for this type of behavior. It is hoped that with new checks and balances that the culture will change. In fact, as we speak a large number of service people who have not followed the recent change in orders are being released from the Canadian Forces. For too long, the lack of action by some military leaders has caused tragic results.
I commend Anne Gallant of Kensington for her truthful words in recent letters to the editor. It would be fair to say that most of us know of friends or family members who have suffered often in silence at the hands of these abusers.
Recently the whole world is being inoculated with the knowledge of sexual abuse. Realistically it will take time to change the culture. Let’s Start with our leadership: political leaders, employers, etc. This isn’t rocket science, we have to take the issue of sexual abuse out of the workplace and create (at arm's length) a reporting mechanism very much like the human rights department. I have witnessed too much of the status quo where abuse has been swept under the carpet. In the U.S. as a lawyer wrote, in some situations hush money has been the answer. This type of solution destroys public trust and individual’s lives.
To effect change, make sexual abuse guidelines front and center in our new Municipal Government Act.
No more “Silence of the Lambs.” Together we can make a change.