One of the most shocking effects of the Harvey Weinstein scandal of sexual assault & rape, which has thus far named 82 victims, is the revelation that sexual harassment, assault, abuse & rape is not limited to Hollywood – it occurs in every field from politics and the media to hospitality and the WWE.
It also happens to men.
My earliest experiences with sexual harassment began when I was age 18 and attending night classes at a Radio School.
All the students were male. And at one point a female student also began to attend the classes. And I don’t think she stayed there that long. Nonetheless, the entire culture of this radio school was focused on sexual harassment. The teacher would sexually harass the male students, and the male students would, in turn, sexually harass each other. It became something that was just part and parcel of attending the radio school.
The students would try to grab your crotch; they would constantly touch you and make sexually obscene remarks.
It wasn’t just the radio school teacher that was engaging in sexual harassment or just the students – it was also other older men who were in some way affiliated or connected to the school that would either drop in on classes or if we were at a the house where we had on-air radio shifts on the weekend, they would be there and they would always be making comments. So I recall one older man was sitting there and I don’t know how the conversation began but he made these extraordinarily surreal comments such as, ‘Wow I love your jeans. Your jeans are great. And I wonder if they would fit me. I really would like to try those jeans on. Let me try those jeans on.’
It wasn’t just a way of beginning a conversation; he was actually trying to get me to take off my pants.
He wasn’t interested in trying on those pants because the guy was fat; there was no way he was going to fit into these pants. And I ended up saying, “You’re not going to fit into these.” But he kept saying, ‘Let me try them on; let me try them on; take them off; let me try them on.’ And the whole intention was just to get you to take off your pants. And although that might sound funny if it was an SNL skit, it’s not funny when you’re the one experiencing it, and not realizing how these people who are in a position of power are actually manipulating you.
And this is something that’s in common with all cases of sexual harassment – there’s a person in a position of power who, in turn, sexually objectifies the other person or uses them as a sexual object, with the intention of satisfying their own selfish desires.
Again, the point here is that manipulation was a key component.
This person knew that he had power; this person knew that he could manipulate you. And if you were young and naive or innocent or you didn’t want to rock the boat, you didn’t want to create conflict, you didn’t want to create confrontation, you thought the right thing to do was be respectful and courteous, then you would actually end up going along with this form of sexual harassment, rather than just standing there and saying ‘To hell with you’ or walking out.
Even as I’m explaining this story now, it becomes more obvious to me the extraordinary amount of manipulation I experienced.
Another example was when I was working in radio and I came back to do some official business with the above mentioned radio school. And the teacher, upon seeing me, would not greet me with a shake of the hand, he would simply take his hand and grab my crotch and say, “Hello.”
And I stood there and I said to him in a stern voice, “Are you ok?”
He simply took that same hand that was grabbing my crotch and he slapped me.
So, yes, I understand when women begin to share their story of sexual harassment.
I had multiple experiences of sexual harassment even when I was part of a Sunday night radio show on a major city station. Again, I was age 18 or 19 and I was brought in almost like an intern, like a helping hand on the Sunday night show, and it was viewed as a privilege that you would go there and be part of this Sunday night radio show.
And here were these adult men who were engaging in sexual acts upon each other while the radio show was live, and they would obviously try to draw you in. Or they would try to touch you or they would try to entice you or they would try to guilt or manipulate you.
Also when I was around age 18-19, I was hitchhiking and I was almost raped again by a man.
Many years later, when I became a human behavior expert and a therapist and I devised my own therapy technique, I was able to help so many victims of sexual abuse, molestation, rape and sexual harassment. And the reason I’m sharing this point about the technique is that before I share all of the symptoms of sexual harassment – all of the signs, all of the consequences, all of the effects, all of the impacts of sexual harassment, I would like to say that the most obvious one is the recurring trauma.
Trauma is injury.
Sexual harassment is an injury to both the physical body and the mental and emotional body.
In traditional Chinese medicine, they don’t separate the mind and the body or the heart. The mind and the body they say is one. And I see this, of course, in my clients: an injury to the physical body also affects the psyche, the mind, and injury to the mind also affects the body.
And so when clients come to me who have been victims of sexual harassment or abuse, molestation or rape, you see that they’re still reliving the trauma. And that’s the key point. That’s the one constant amongst all of the victims – that they continue to relive the trauma – even if it occurs in the form of nightmares.
And so one of the very first things you have to deal with in trying to help a client such as this is to get them out of that traumatic state because they keep reliving the trauma. And you can’t help someone through the pain, through the trauma, while they are still reliving it. We also referred to this as PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
What that really means is that the person, the victim, is still stuck inside that trauma as if it’s still happening right now; they are in a cycle where they keep reliving it.
What is the long term effect on the mind and the body of someone who’s been a victim of sexual harassment, abuse, molestation or rape?
And I said the first thing is that they will relive the trauma, although many will try to suppress it or even repress the memory.
Obviously there are some people that will try to deny, suppress or repress the trauma, the pain or the memories.
And sometimes you can do that successfully – for a period of time. Some people do it with drugs. Some people do it with a form of addiction. Some people do it by becoming overachievers, becoming workaholics. In other words, unless you’re willing to confront that pain that trauma, you only have one of two ways to go: either you find a way to suppress, repress and numb the pain with drugs or some form of addiction, or, you become a victim to it. And it also overtakes your life in another way.
For me, I found ways to distract myself through achievement, and through constant cerebral pursuits. This is common amongst many people who are victims of some form of sexual abuse.
What I found both through personal experience and specifically through working with hundreds and hundreds of victims of some form of sexual harassment or assault or abuse is that there are two extremes. Usually the victim will most likely become more sexualized and potentially promiscuous, and then eventually will detest and simply stop engaging in sex. So they go from the one extreme, which is to become more sexual, to the other extreme of becoming almost asexual (the lack of sexual attraction to others, or low or absent interest in or desire for sexual activity) or simply not interested in sex.
One client of mine married a prostitute.
She had given up prostitution and they married and had a child together. And then one day he came to me to say that he needed help because his wife had stopped having sex with him. She had completely switched off. And, of course, he was now experiencing feelings of guilt and shame and thinking, ‘Is it me? Is something wrong with me that she does not want to have sex with me?’
When he told me the story of her being a prostitute I replied immediately, “She was sexually abused as a child?”
He said he didn’t know. Of course, he went and checked and yes, she had been sexually abused as a child.
I pointed out to him that this was a pattern: someone who might be sexually abused as a child would become highly sexualized, and then one day will turn off the sex, turn off even the desire for sex because they then go from the place of craving sex to feeling dirty and tainted and associating extraordinary pain, trauma, and horror with the act of sex.
Over decades of working with so many victims, I’ve created a list of the 25 symptoms – the consequences, signs, impact and effects, that sexual harassment and sexual abuse has on its victims.
Anointed “The Woman Expert” by WGN Chicago, Patrick Wanis PhD is a renowned Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert who developed SRTT therapy (Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique) and is teaching it to other practitioners. Wanis’ clientele ranges from celebrities and CEOs to housewives and teenagers. CNN, BBC, FOX News, MSNBC & major news outlets worldwide consult Wanis for his expert insights and analysis on sexuality, human behavior and women’s issues. Wanis is the first person ever to do hypnotherapy on national TV – on the Montel Williams show.