Concrete Suggestions for Breaking the Silence

There has been quite a bit of talk lately regarding speaking out about problems in the profession. This prompted one reader to send in the following request:

I would appreciate a post that invites suggestions, concrete suggestions, about how a woman who has been sexually assaulted or harassed might actually speak out. This includes women who have been harassed/assaulted long ago, and have seen their way past it, but feel helpless and even guilty in light of the continued problem.  Women are silent because they are terrified of ruining their reputations, the reputations of their PhD programs, and their careers. Even tenured women. And that fear is totally rational. No one wants to talk publicly about getting harassed/assaulted, anymore than one wants to talk about their sex life in general.  How do we get around that? For me, this is what I care most about. How do we break the silence?

The AAUP lists some procedures here about bringing and resolving sexual harassment complaints. However, such procedures do not themselves speak to the concerns that lead victims to be too fearful to make use of them.  So I invite readers to provides suggestions in the comments, both about how individuals should go about speaking out, and also what steps departments can take to facilitate such speaking out. Of course, the advisability of any course of action may depend on local factors about which commentators here are ignorant, but that should not stop us from getting some ideas out to discuss. (Also, please be patient, as comments are moderated and may take a while to appear.)

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