Friday, December 13, 2019

Shining a light on sexual violence helps prevent it

 A statement from the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers

One of the most effective ways to prevent sexual harassment and violence is to shine a light on it.

When organizations are transparent about incidents of sexual abuse, they help everyone understand the factors that can lead to sexual abuse and how to develop systems and processes to prevent that abuse.

Uber’s recent release of sexual abuse data is an example of that. The level of transparency Uber has displayed is a credit to their commitment to end sexual harassment and assault. By providing this information, they are taking a step toward preventing future victimization.

We already know some of the factors that can encourage perpetration – isolated working conditions, significant power and pay disparities, hierarchical organizations that discourage reporting or lack independent investigatory channels, and male-dominated fields. The data from Uber may enable us to shine more light on these and other factors that contribute to sexual assault in the workplace.

Preventing sexual assault and future victimization will make a significant difference in many people’s lives. The human harm caused by sexual abuse that goes unaddressed by employers is significant. It can derail careers, create a ripple effect of financial difficulties, cause mental and physical health problems, and result in long-term traumatic impacts on the person who was abused.

Businesses that work to prevent and address sexual abuse not only save these human costs, they also save money.

Data from FY2017 found that workplace sexual harassment and assault settlements negotiated by the EEOC cost U.S. companies $46.3 million that year. Because the EEOC is involved in only a small percentage of such cases, actual total litigation costs in the United States are much higher. Studies also show that businesses pay anywhere per case from $75,000 for out-of-court settlements to $200,000 and up for jury settlements. Companies also lose money through reduced staff productivity; higher employee turnover; increased insurance costs; and, occasionally, boycotts. And these economic costs are not limited to the United States. They are a worldwide issue.

By being open about the sexual abuse their drivers and passengers have experienced, Uber is giving us the information we need to help prevent these types of assaults. This is an excellent example of social and corporate responsibility that others would be wise to follow.

For more information about the factors that can lead to sexual abuse and how to prevent abuse, visit

For additional details about the costs of abuse, see the following sources:

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