The media will lead you to believe you can get men to stop sexual harassment and abuse by:
- Educating men about why sexual harassment and abuse is wrong
- Firing men from their jobs
- Having women tell men how their behavior affected them
- Educating men about gender equality
- Shaming these men, posting their names on social media
These solutions on their own, are doomed to fail because they only address the symptoms rather than the root cause of sexual harassment and abuse which I addressed in the previous blog. Both the symptoms and the root need to be addressed for healing to occur.
For the perpetrator, this pattern of sexual abuse and harassment has most likely been with them for quite a while. These behaviors come from beliefs that were instilled in them from their family of origin, their religious upbringing and from the society in which they were raised. Things they were taught and things they observed. They usually begin as thoughts and they try to ignore them. Then they begin to entertain the thought, then imagine what it would be like to do this, what would it feel like, and then turn it into action. Usually the first time it is done they feel some shame and guilt. But whatever positive benefit they received from the behavior, it is strong enough to entice them to do it again until it becomes a habit and they find ways to justify what they do and often blame the victim for their behaviors. Healing involves:
- Becoming aware of these behaviors
- Admitting their responsibility rather than blaming others
- Understanding where these behaviors came from, why they did what they did and then doing what they need to change their beliefs, thoughts and feelings associated with these behaviors, so the behaviors will stop.
- Becoming aware of how these behaviors affected the victim
- Making appropriate amends to the one they harmed
- Forgiving themselves
- Being accountable to someone who will alert them when they see signs of this behavior again, so they can stop before they do it again.
The best place to process all of this and heal is through counseling. However, most people resist this and think they can just stop these behaviors at will. Or they just get another job, move to another city, find another girlfriend and begin the behaviors all over again, hoping their past won’t be found out and they will not get caught this time. If you know of someone who is struggling with these issues, please encourage them to seek counseling.