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What is the impact of sexual harassment on mental health?

On Behalf of | Oct 2, 2023 | Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is an issue that transcends industries. It can also wreak havoc on its victims’ physical and emotional well-being and inflict profound harm on their mental health.

Shedding light on the devastating impact that sexual harassment can have on an individual’s mental health is important.

Emotional turmoil

Sexual harassment is a deeply distressing experience that often triggers intense emotional turmoil. Victims may grapple with feelings of fear, humiliation, shame and anger. These emotions can be overwhelming, leading to persistent stress and anxiety. Such emotional turmoil can disrupt daily life and even affect one’s ability to work or form healthy relationships.

Post-traumatic stress disorder

In some cases, survivors of sexual harassment may develop post-traumatic stress disorder, otherwise known as PTSD. 13 million Americans have PTSD as of 2020.

Their struggles may manifest in the form of flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, making it challenging for individuals to move past their traumatic experiences. The constant replay of the harassment incident in their minds can hinder their ability to find peace.


Sexual harassment can also be a precursor to depression. Persistent negative emotions, along with feelings of powerlessness, can lead victims into a downward spiral of sadness and hopelessness. Depression not only affects one’s mood but can also disrupt sleep patterns, appetite and overall physical health.

Self-esteem and self-worth

A significant consequence of sexual harassment is the erosion of one’s self-esteem and self-worth. Victims often blame themselves for the harassment, questioning whether they somehow provoked it or failed to react appropriately. This internalized self-blame can contribute to feelings of worthlessness and can be a barrier to seeking help or support.

Impact on relationships

Sexual harassment can also take a toll on personal relationships. Survivors may find it challenging to trust others, including friends and family. The strain on interpersonal connections can increase feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Survivors often grapple with a complex web of emotions that leaves them unsure of what to do next. Fostering a culture of empathy and understanding can be the first step toward helping survivors rebuild their lives.