No one should have to fear going to work or experiencing trauma in the workplace, but it happens all too often across the globe.
However, some regions have a more significant problem with workplace violence and harassment than others. Shockingly, Australia and New Zealand have the highest rates of workplace violence and harassment, with 49% of Australians and 42% of New Zealanders having been victims of these situations.
This is compared to the global average of 21%, according to a report by Lloyd's Register Foundation titled "Safe at work? Global experiences of violence and harassment".
A Gallup survey revealed that 52% of women in the region have suffered violence and harassment in the workplace at some point in their lives, including physical, psychological, or sexual violence. The survey also found that 44% of men reported having suffered such experiences.
Psychological harassment was reported by 79% of respondents from Australia and New Zealand, and almost two-thirds (65%) of participants who experienced sexual violence and harassment had experienced it repeatedly. In all three cases, Australia and New Zealand had the highest rates of repeated experiences.
Researchers agree that workplace violence and harassment are challenging to measure, and a report by the International Labour Organization found that only half of victims globally have disclosed their experiences to anyone, usually when they have suffered more than one form of violence and harassment. The most common reasons for reluctance to report include the "waste of time" and "fear for their reputation."
The effects of workplace violence and harassment can be short or long-term, with symptoms similar to those of stress, such as tiredness, nervousness, sleep problems, migraines, digestive problems, and low back pain.
If the harassment persists over time, it can lead to major depressive states, post-traumatic stress, recurrent feelings of shame, or personality alterations.
To deal with harassment, it's crucial to stand up to it as soon as possible, confront the harasser with direct answers, and gather evidence by recording conversations or keeping notes. Witnesses can also help gather evidence and provide support. Reporting the harassment to colleagues, superiors, family, and friends can also help break the cycle of shame. Seek psychological and legal advice if the problem escalates.