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Psych Faculty & Sexual Impropriety

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by DynamicDidactic, Nov 15, 2017.

  1. I’m so clueless about this at times that when my student asked me if there was anything they could do to improve their grade and they absolutely couldn’t afford a bad grade, I just gave them some study tips along with some test taking strategies. Later on I was thinking that I might have misread it. I really can’t imagine doing anything along the lines of what some of these serial abusers do. As a man who has helped protect women from the creeps and they are legion unfortunately, I find myself frustrated at how little I can do to protect my daughter, my nieces, my sisters, and my patients from this kind of crap. I also have witnessed first hand the destructive effects of sexual predation on boys and young men by some of these same sick individual. Like my wife was just saying a little while ago on a related topic, men are just dangerous. As a sensitive male who has always been emotionally attuned and empathic, I had to live with these brutes too and try to avoid assaults. Not always successfully either. On the other hand, as a male I have been aggressive as well and actually embrace that aspect of my personality. How to integrate aspects of maleness is a challenge in today’s world and I worry about a current trend of splintering males into either aggressors or sensitive depressed guys. Interesting that the male psychologists who post on this board who are probably more likely than many in society to have a better grasp on this seem to be under attack for being “too masculine”.
     
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  3. PSYDR

    PSYDR Psychologist 10+ Year Member

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    @msgeorgeeliot

    If there are a set of rules, it should apply to all equally.

    If the standard advice when hearing about a crime is to advise the victim to report it, then it applies to all. If the standard advice when a professional discloses an issue that may affect his/her professional life is to advise them to seek psychotherapy, then it applies to all. What someone does with that advice is their own choice.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017
  4. MCParent

    MCParent Faculty Bronze Donor Classifieds Approved 5+ Year Member

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    If I posted that and got the reply you gave, I’d be ticked off too. As though reporting it never occurred to them/as though reporting were always believed/as though reporting does not place one at risk for retaliation/as if, even if the report is accepted and there’s no retaliation, there is no danger of it continuing to follow someone’s (esp a woman’s) reputation).

    At best, it was an incredibly superficial and thoughtless reply to a disclosure like that.
     
  5. PSYDR

    PSYDR Psychologist 10+ Year Member

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    1) op did not disclose when the attack happened until after I provided the standard response. I actually contracted the mods because it seemed that I was the only one who noticed op was disclosing a very serious crime, and that this might be used in evidence in either civil or criminal matters. I would hope every single ethical person would respond in similar manners anytime they noticed something similar.

    2) I don’t care. If someone disclosed being a victim of a crime, I will advise they report this to law enforcement 100% of the time. I would do this for anyone, regardless of gender, race, age, education, or other factor. Because that reaction is the right thing to do.

    3) Retaliation or the threats thereof work because everyone accepts the threat. Maintaining assertiveness in the face of threats is neither a male or female issue.

    4) if one changes their response to an action based upon static factors; there is no equality. SCOTUS has ruled on this several times, including last year.

    5) op made several unfair statements, including saying that telling someone what to do is vorboten. Honestly, my assumption was that this person was so upset that they couldn’t see that there was an error of circular logic there. Because the other explanations were that they lacked the cognitive ability to recognize the error (which seemed unlikely for someone with a PhD), or that they were so incredibly sexist as to believe that one set of rules apply to one gender and another apply to another... which is in conflict with the literal definition of feminism. Unless you are Andrea dworkin.
     
  6. PhDPlz2011

    PhDPlz2011 5+ Year Member

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    Deleted for the sake of civility.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2017
  7. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist Psychologist 7+ Year Member

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    We start hurling personal insults, the thread gets shut down, no more discussion. This is why we can't have nice things.
     
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  8. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist Moderator Psychologist Gold Donor Classifieds Approved 7+ Year Member

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    Mod Note: Let's please keep the discussion civil, professional, and related to the topics at hand. Thank you.

    Edit: And, to clarify, this is not in response to any one specific post.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2017
  9. PhDPlz2011

    PhDPlz2011 5+ Year Member

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    Is this in response to my post? (This is a sincere question...trying to gauge whether your perception is that I'm the one who crossed a line here.)
     
  10. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist Psychologist 7+ Year Member

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    It was a general response to any post that used a personal insult.
     
  11. PhDPlz2011

    PhDPlz2011 5+ Year Member

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    Okay. Fair enough. I deleted my comment.

    Statements like, "Honestly, my assumption was that this person was so upset that they couldn’t see that there was an error of circular logic there. Because the other explanations were that they lacked the cognitive ability to recognize the error (which seemed unlikely for someone with a PhD)" (@PSYDR) are oppressive. Why? Because in addition to potentially being personally insulting (though I, of course, can't say how the target of these comments reacted to them), they reflect tired but effective tropes that are used to suppress the voices of women as well as male victims. Women are unhinged, unreliable, unable to think straight...so when they are victimized and then talk about their victimization with anything but the crispest, cleanest, most emotionless language, we shrug them off and tell them to get help. Bonus points if we do so in a manner that reflects that we ourselves are untouched by emotion as we relay this "advice." I think it's important for us as professionals to recognize tropes like this one because they impact our patients and our students and because, assuming we don't want to contribute to the oppression of women, we shouldn't use them.
     
  12. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist Psychologist 7+ Year Member

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  13. dynamicdog

    dynamicdog

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    This type of response is very defensive and stifling to progress and change. Try to hear what women, victims, etc. are saying. Yes there are technical protocols for victims of these crimes, but anyone paying attention understands that the system itself is flawed and often unkind to victims. Additionally, as psychologists we should understand that everyone reacts to trauma differently. Seriously though- try to listen, understand, and keep an open mind. It's not a personal attack but can become one if you let it.
     
  14. calimich

    calimich Assistant Professor Psychologist Faculty 2+ Year Member

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    This is an important thread and I appreciate the posters who have shared personal experiences. Although I’m not surprised, your narratives help bring to life the visceral component of sexual assault and harassment. Thank you.

    I have many thoughts on this topic and I’ll try to briefly share some of them.

    1) In some ways the current thread reminds me of this one from a few years back. The dialogue was frequently sidetracked to debating semantics, peripheral issues, and exceptions, rather than discussing the actual topic. Seems similar dynamics have occurred in this thread (and not uncommon to what I experience in the classroom when students are confronted with “difficult dialogues”).

    2) Early in my training I was given feedback that I can come off as intimidating. Although I wasn’t totally surprised, it wasn’t (and isn’t) a trait I want to cultivate. Upon reflection, I understood how I came off that way sometimes. I am a man, and although I’m average height, I have a large frame. Additionally, I was a collegiate wrestler and later a coach. I was trained to, practiced, taught others to, and found success at physically dominating others. Beginning with that feedback many years ago I consciously monitor my body language. How much space am I taking up? Might my body language be perceived as threatening, intimidating, aggressive? How can I better communicate warmth, openness, and approachability through my non-verbals? How can I help other trainees (especially men) be more aware of the messages they send through body language, tone of voice, facial expressions, etc?

    3) Part of my research focuses on pedagogy. I (and others) have commented about the tone of this message board. A common retort is something like, “well this board is not as bad as XXXX board.” Regarding pedagogy, there is a construct known as the “hidden curriculum” – I understand it as “what messages is the instructor delivering without conscious knowledge?” On this board, I wonder what psychologists-in-training and prospective grad students are learning by reading the sarcastic comments, defensive statements, assumptions regarding why someone might consider a certain program or geographic location, etc…in essence what are we communicating about our profession and standards of communication?

    not too brief, and still have more thoughts, but 8am class calls…please excuse typos
     
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  15. Justanothergrad

    Justanothergrad Counseling Psychologist Psychologist Faculty 2+ Year Member

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    It's also worth considering that no one in this thread knows the victim status of anyone else unless they choose to disclose it here. Many don't and won't disclose things I suspect. Even those that do disclose have gone to lengths to limit the disclosure, sometimes opting to create new usernames. The last thing I (and I presume anyone in here) wants is to have people who have been assault, attacked, descriminated against, and so forth to feel further devalued, marginalized, or dismissed. There are lots of things that get in the way of progress and assumptions are one of them. There are numerous assumptions that get made about others, their meaning, intent, etc. When we make assumptions about others and who they are, we ready ourselves for less conversation and more confrontation. It doesn't mean that we aren't allowed to have those reactions, but it doesn't necessarily help. Perhaps folks would be wise to share their views and/or experiences instead of sharing how others should share theirs. This might help to create a more welcoming environment to difficult conversation and dodge the issues calimich raised about sidetracking the actual topic.

    This is a general comment about how we (that is an inclusive 'we') discuss sensitive topics and was not directed at your post (the quote just provided a good sounding board for it), or the conversation it was from. I went back and forth about if I was going to say anything else in this thread or if I saw it as too much of a waste of time.
     
  16. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist Psychologist 7+ Year Member

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    I agree, ideological/experiential purity tests are never really a good idea, in most any situation.
     
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  17. foreverbull

    foreverbull 2+ Year Member

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    Just to add to the general discussion: defensiveness, intellectualizing, using esoteric jargon, semantics focus/criticizing one small phrase or minor point and ignoring the bigger message, one-liner/knee jerk responses to a lengthy post, and eventually, name-calling and insults (on both sides)....we see this from time to time in this forum and it's a common deflection when things get uncomfortable. I occasionally request for folks to self-reflect in this forum when the topic gets heated and judgments/assumptions start flying, and I get responses like: "no thanks" or "privilege, there's that word again that isn't operationally defined and is meaningless" (more deflections). Or I get complete silence when the thread was just lighting up with comments. I believe that status quo responses like these stymie any hope of a real dialogue. I've become aware that I'm particularly careful in my word choice in this forum because I've been criticized multiple times for using one word/phrase that some folks didn't like, and my whole point was lost in the semantics realm and never actually addressed.

    As I said before, when people think they don't have anything left to learn in life (about themselves and others), it raises red flags for me. I hold psychologists to a higher standard because we learn and use emotional intelligence skills in our work with others, so we know that choice of words matters. And, when it comes to trauma/particularly terrible experiences, I give those folks a little more leeway in their venting, because I don't know what it would be like to experience what they've been through, so I try not to make assumptions.

    Some folks have shared well thought-out points and personal experiences that I want to address, but my post would be the length of a dissertation. It has given me a lot to think about, though, and I appreciate those who shared thoughtfully. I've wondered myself about gender/power dynamics in this very forum at times.
     
  18. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist Psychologist 7+ Year Member

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    I totally agree about the uncomfortable issue. Dialogue could go a long way if people were ok with just being uncomfortable at times.
     
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  19. Jon Snow

    Jon Snow Senior Member 10+ Year Member

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    I think in a general manner, people should strive to see things from another's perspective, cultivate empathy and theory of mind. However, that you request people self-reflect and interpret responses as deflections when people focus on word choice and then state that we, as psychologists, know that word choice matters, I am a bit perplexed.

    That you get what you perceive to be defensive responses is a datapoint. In this forum, you have people interested in psychology, psychologists, and other mental health disciplines. This is a population that is attuned to the language and jargon of the field and sensitive to how people interact.

    I agree with you that someone who has disclosed a rape or other assault or harassment, likely deserves leeway. Beyond that, I think in general everyone deserves some leeway, an assumption that they are arguing in good faith and perhaps have genuine good in mind. That should be the null hypothesis, if you will, of social interaction. Everyone has their own unique story and deserves the respect of having it heard.

    I've attacked the "privilege" rhetoric, even in this thread, because I genuinely find it divisive and counter-productive. The knee-jerk progressive lib response to that is to make a bunch of assumptions about my view of the world and my denial of what they find starkly obvious, which, in truth, isn't so much a denial as it is objection to what was purposefully chosen to be an agitator word. As was previously pointed out, this is how you get Trump. Given my conclusion statement, you might infer and you would be correct, that I think that's a bad thing. So, am an I ally or an enemy, sexist racist who doesn't know his ass from a hole in the wall? I consider myself to be an ally and actively try to combat both sexism and racism. As part of that, I try to argue against in-group and out-group exclusions. Arguing white privilege to a bunch of out of work coal miners in West Virginia, for example, isn't going to buy you any votes because what is presented to them is entirely alien to their existence.

    It's hard to make me angry. I cannot recall an instance posting here in which the emotional needle for me has moved much at all. I generally equate getting angry with losing, a personal loss if you will, not in a competitive sense. My point isn't to intellectualize so much as it is to state that we can present and debate complicated and difficult topics without getting overly worked up in a space that is healthy for that. Where else would that be than an anonymous forum? People here don't influence your life, usually. It's a relatively safe space in which to explore, possibly unpopular viewpoints of hair-brained ideas. And, maybe you change some minds or maybe your mind is changed. But, learning happens, in any case, yes?

    Or, more succinctly. "Dialogue could go a long way if people were ok with just being uncomfortable at times."
     
  20. Meregold

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    I hear you and that's all well and good, but someone disclosing a rape is not the appropriate time to have an intellectual debate about the correct tone people disclosing rapes should use. (I'm not saying you said it was, but many in this thread decided to use it in that way) The fact that so many accomplished psychologists here fail to grasp that is super frustrating, especially since most of the ones that decided to critique the original disclosure couldn't be bothered to preface it with a "wow that's terrible I'm so sorry that happened" before they went straight into berating the poster. Like I almost disclosed a sexual assault to a professor several years back, and my main takeaway from this thread is that I am so glad I didn't if there's a chance many of the people who have posted here might have been the one I disclosed it to. From coldly being told to report it to the police and seek help, to being lectured if perhaps I had made the mistake of implicating men broadly in my blame and having the conversation shift to how it made my professor feel, to the implication that I need to keep my emotions in check if I want people to care about my problems, I'm terrified of the reaction I would have received and the damage it would have caused. Like you're all psychologists. Don't we all know that anger, even seemingly irrational anger, is a really really /normal/ response to oppression and abuse? Haven't you all received sensitivity training and how to, like, not further traumatize victims of violence?

    I also wonder if we should clarify what point of dialogue tone decisions is? Is the point to be effective (as was belabored a lot earlier), or is it to be right? Because those on this forum who insist that Msgeorge and others should change their tone because it is alienating, also seem to be the ones that fail to grasp that their dismissiveness and nitpicking has simply escalated their anger. Have you ever been in an argument with a partner and said something to the equivalent to "calm down" and the opposite not happened? Like, everyone knows the best was to deescalate anger is generally to offer sympathy, to try to hear what is being heard, to apologize--if need be--for anything you might have done wrong and to try to be better. Did any of y'all's dismissive calls for "civil dialogue" cause her to backtrack her language? No, you just pissed her off, and rightfully so because it was an extremely cold response. But when I acknowledged she had a right to be angry, that what happened to her was terrible, but also that the OP's intentions were probably good, she did backtrack and acknowledge she had probably overreacted and misplaced her anger immediately. For a group of people so concerned with effective dialogue, many of you seem super incapable of it.


    I thought we just discussed about not judging people's intentions? Since when does discussing a concept that has extensive sociological/ psychological support inherently mean you're trying to provoke a fight?

    I understand you're all scientists and debates are important, as is objectivity and elevating reason above emotion and that is well and good. But once in a blue moon you need to come down from your ivory towers and show a bit of humanity. This was one of those moments. I'm sure you're all great people and had the best of intentions, but intentions often do not translate, especially over the internet. I hope you will listen to all the people on here that were disturbed by your reactions, and reflect on how you might have engaged more productively/ not come across as so insensitive.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2017
  21. Justanothergrad

    Justanothergrad Counseling Psychologist Psychologist Faculty 2+ Year Member

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    The term doesn't have the basis of scientific support you imply that it does (see Lilienfeld, 2017), a point which Sue (2017) acknowledges in his rebuttal.
     
  22. Meregold

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    I assume you're referring to his critique about assumptions about the harmful effects of microaggressions? Because that has very little to do with the decades of evidence that POC and women experience widespread discrimination in this culture based on those variables (race/ ethnicity, gender). I didn't say anything about microaggressions. (EDIT: to add class to the list. As someone from a rural area, class-based discrimination is super real, but I guess doesn't get listed as much because it's more obvious, or perhaps there's less research on it)

    (But as a sidenote if we want another example of nitpicking and missing the main point of a post, this is it)
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2017
  23. foreverbull

    foreverbull 2+ Year Member

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    @Jon Snow and @Justanothergrad

    I'm commenting on the process of what I've experienced in here many times, and while folks challenged me to strengthen my debate skills/use more specific evidence, be more cautious about word choice (as you have), and keep an open mind, I rarely see it go both ways in that same discussion, even when I agree to do so for my part. To me, it seems a bit one-sided at times.

    As a woman engaging with several men in a discussion in here, I sometimes find myself in a position where I end up recanting/relenting to get the discussion refocused because I'm pointed out as "wrong" for saying something, word choice, etc. very directly, whereas the other party (usually if not always male) does not see the need to acknowledge any wrongdoing, even if they've been openly dismissive or judgmental of me or others. This doesn't just happen with women in here, to be fair. But to me, that's a microcosm of what happens in life, and if you read this entire thread carefully, you can see hints of the patterns played out by men and women that speak to the power dynamic (pay attention to who apologizes or admits wrongdoing, who softens their language, etc.). This is why I challenge folks to consider how their behavior (even in a forum) can keep power dynamics in place (not just gender, but other cultural factors as well)--all of us.

    My thanks to those willing to share their own experiences of trauma and power, those who responded thoughtfully and addressed the greater issues, and those willing to self-reflect.
     
  24. Jon Snow

    Jon Snow Senior Member 10+ Year Member

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    No one offers perfect responses all of the time. And, I agree, anger, sometimes seemingly irrational anger, is a really, really normal response to being raped.

    This isn't a clinical session. The OP was about the existence of these issues, now majorly in the press, in psychology departments. Yes, a poster disclosed a rape, lots of rapes. Yes, that's horrible. And, maybe not everyone responded in the most empathetic or ideal manner that showed in this message board format, that they heard the pain of that disclosure. I think that there's something to learn from someone that has gone through it, which is why I responded the way I did to that person and asked the questions that I asked. FWIW, I don't see anything wrong with MsGeorge's tone.

    I don't see anything particularly wrong with PsyDr's "tone" either. Sometimes we say things in a clumsy manner. Sometimes what we say isn't received in the manner intended. And, sometimes maybe we're a little insensitive to the issues in play and just simply say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Call it foot in mouth disease, if you want.

    Who said you were trying to provoke a fight? I don't agree that privilege is an empirically supported, scientific law. I don't think my point of view on this is nitpicking or dismissive of power dynamics or racism or sexism, in any way.

    edit: since it was embedded, I almost didn't catch it. I am sorry to read that you were sexually assaulted. That must have been a difficult experience.
     
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  25. Meregold

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    No one said I was trying to provoke a fight. In the quote I pasted, you said people who bring up the term privilege choose it purposefully as an agitator word. I was pointing out that that was an unfair assumption of intention behind bringing up a well-established and important concept.

    The point of my comment is to call attention to the fact that a little insensitivity to one person can have a whole negative impact on another. PsyDrs initial response was a misstep, but easily forgivable. Their refusal to acknowledge that their response was hurtful and not constructive when a rape victim was telling them so is, imo, the problem. Listen to people, be willing to acknowledge that what you think is the right response may not be the right response. We all make errors, the important thing is being able to acknowledge it. I think that's all anyone is asking.

    Edit to your edit: Thanks! I'm fine now. And because the first couple of disclosures were really well-received, I find it a lot easier to reign in my frustration about these issues than some people. But not all of them were, and I know how damaging it can be for a disclosure to be ill-received. I know everyone on here has good intentions, I just wish people would take a little longer to acknowledge how a little bit of callousness and defensiveness can do a lot more damage than they might expect.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2017
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  26. Jon Snow

    Jon Snow Senior Member 10+ Year Member

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    I'm sure I am less quick to critique those that offer positions I agree with. I agree. How do you know "usually, if not always male"? You do understand that you've just asserted that men don't acknowledge wrongdoing and aren't rebuked even when their transgressions are glaringly obvious and that is how it is in life. Women apologize and admit wrong doing. Men don't.

    So, white privilege. . . and men are mean to women and don't acknowledge wrong doing. I'll try not to be defensive about that and just accept it as truth :)
     
  27. Jon Snow

    Jon Snow Senior Member 10+ Year Member

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    Oh. That's not what I meant. I meant that it was originally chosen as an agitator word. It is often wielded as such. Not that you were choosing to use it as such. I am sorry I caused confusion with that.
     
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  28. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist Psychologist 7+ Year Member

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    I for one, do not reside in an ivory tower, waxing philosophical all day. The majority of my work is clinical. This is where I see the hypocrisy and ideological purity testing going on here. There are a lot of assumptions about people's clinical acumen, clinical training, and own personal history of trauma.
     
  29. Meregold

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    I am sure you're a fantastic clinician and never meant to insinuate otherwise. In fact, my respect for the experts on this board is the reason I am so baffled by how poorly people on here handled a disclosure of rape. I am by no means an expert, but I have studied under psychologists that specialize in trauma, and the discrepancy and lack of tact was astounding. But I doubt anyone here would react in such a manner in a clinical setting.

    I do not believe I have made assumptions about anyone's history of abuse, and I haven't noticed anyone else do so either (though you are correct that some people's personal experiences, yours included, were unduly minimized). I specifically clarified that people who have been abused are just as capable of cruelty towards others who have, and should be just as subject to criticism. Whether you or others here have experienced abuse yourself matters very much and I hope you didn't feel like anyone believed otherwise, but it does not matter in the sense that whether or not you experienced abuse, the manner in which you treated a woman who had was cruel and (in my opinion) warranted rebuke. (Edit: to be more specific. Your first reaction was to quite forcefully berate the poster and complain about her "baiting" and "****posting" without even acknowledging the horror she endured, and then seemingly without realizing the irony, a few minutes later talk about the importance of effective dialogue if you want other people to listen to what you have to say)

    I have no intention to personally insult your training, expertise, skills as a professional, etc. But I do believe you and others acted tactlessly, and without regard for really basic principles of how to deal with people who have experienced trauma, and was certainly surprised that those with training at your level didn't bother to express sympathy or effectively deescalate the exchanges.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2017
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  30. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist Psychologist 7+ Year Member

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    It's a broad statement about multiple statements here about previous conversations. The irony and hypocrisy of some of the statements is something baffling to me.

    As to the disclosure of rape, I agree some statements were poorly worded, and some people responded in a less than empathic way. But, when it's all said and done, this is a professional board where training, clinical, and research issues are discussed. It is not a therapy/process board like psychcentral. In fact, personal clinical issues and things approaching professional services and advice are against the TOS. Someone wanted to have a discussion about the training issue and was demonized. Later, people tried to have a discussion about some of the issues in an intellectual way, and they were demonized. Forgive us for treating this board as it is actually intended. Some of us actually wanted to have a discussion about the original post and subsequent issues that arose from it, but instead we wound up being chastised for not being therapeutic enough. Trauma sucks. Many of us have experienced different forms of it in our lives, and hear about it on a daily basis with our patients. I'd say that most of us are probably great clinicians when it comes to that. But, this board is not our office, it's where we come to debate and discuss the aforementioned issues.
     
  31. Meregold

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    I agree that the board got off subject: that's why I tried to bring it back multiple times to discuss how people can address these issues/ to talk about their experiences with it. It was a no-go, though. Arguing is more fun, I guess.

    No one has ever suggested that we all have a group therapy session for the victims on this post. All we asked for was a little bit of kindness, a little bit of sensitivity to make someone's life a little less difficult. In some ways you and others in your "side" were unfairly maligned and attacked. I saw that and it must have sucked. I'm sorry you were treated that way. But if you're going to lecture others about using effective, psychologically informed methods of persuasion when discussing personal issues in this board, I think it's hypocritical to then say you're excused from extrapolating what you know as an expert in such a sensitive and delicate situation. If a coworker disclosed a rape to you and in the fit of her emotion was rude, would you respond in such a way, dismissively telling her she was spreading **** and baiting and messing up your professional work environment? I hope not. A rape victim disclosed, and you treated her extremely rudely. It was horrible to watch, and I'm sure even more horrible for her to experience. was she also rude? Yeah, for sure. But the overwhelmingly critical and unproductive response to such a personal issue certainly did not help. Your debates about best ways to handle disagreement are important, and I really don't disagree with most of what you said; but it is a huge time and place issue. An emotional person disclosing abuse to you is not the right person to have that debate with. It was tactless and undoubtedly very hurtful to her. And the worst part is with a little more sympathy you probably could have made those points and been heard! A message of "I am so sorry that happened. I know you're angry, and you have every right to be, but I don't think the OP meant harm in his wording. I think he was referring to much more benign relationships. Perhaps let's not rush to judgment about his character until we know" would have gone so much farther, and been just as easy to type.

    But I guess the biggest issue is that if we see our training as something that begins and ends at an office door, and fail to see the importance of psychologically-informed human decency in day-to-day life, the problem is a lot bigger than I can deal with.

    Anyway it is very late where I am in the world, so forgive me for not responding promptly to any replies. This has been extremely stressful and exhausting to deal with, and I'm not sure I will be able to keep engaging without getting much more frustrated and emotional (and thereby rude).
     
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  32. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist Psychologist 7+ Year Member

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    There are many perspectives to this issue, and I applaud you for raising them. I'd just like to keep others from keeping an open mind about all "sides" since there are more than 2 here, rather than lumping everything in a neat and tidy pile and assuming intents and purposes.

    Anyway, no need to respond quickly, this isn't a job. I just happen to be checking before going out for volleyball and other things. Hope all have a good weekend and we can return to a fruitful discussion.
     
  33. PSYDR

    PSYDR Psychologist 10+ Year Member

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    It’s uncanny to me that anyone would think that advocating reporting a sexual assault is blocking progress.
     
  34. MCParent

    MCParent Faculty Bronze Donor Classifieds Approved 5+ Year Member

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    I think the problem was with the implication that reporting it is as impactful as reporting a coworker stealing your stapler.
     
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  35. Jon Snow

    Jon Snow Senior Member 10+ Year Member

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  36. foreverbull

    foreverbull 2+ Year Member

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    Most of the folks I referred to self-identified as male at some point in the forum, so it's no secret or assumption.

    I broadly meant that from what I see in the "real world" that men and women are socialized differently and sometimes show differences in responding, as can be observed in this forum. Men aren't always socialized to apologize when they are in a position of power and make mistakes (not to say that they never do, but traditionally, admitting wrongdoing has been equated with weakness), and women are generally socialized to be more tentative and apologetic. I wasn't intending to claim that all men don't apologize, etc., but that there are patterns that appear in greater society.

    Still sticking with the "privilege" point, despite the fact that I didn't go into detail about it or discuss it at any length in any later post since it wasn't part of my main point? Semantics yet again.

    You seem to have ignored this part: I'm commenting on the process of what I've experienced in here many times, and while folks (like you) challenged me to strengthen my debate skills/use more specific evidence, be more cautious about word choice (as you have), and keep an open mind, I rarely see it go both ways in that same discussion (i.e "I will consider this"), even when I agree to do so for my part. To me, it seems one-sided at times, which is why I continue to ask folks in this forum to be self-reflective from time to time instead of using less than tactful language and focusing wholly on semantics, so that there is no true dialogue, but rebuttals upon rebuttals, such as now.
     
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  37. PSYDR

    PSYDR Psychologist 10+ Year Member

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    I'm not sure if I understood your meaning.

    If you are saying that reporting the matter to law enforcement is unlikely to produce charges: that is a sad possibility. Reporting is a binary choice. Not reporting will not produce change.
     
  38. Jon Snow

    Jon Snow Senior Member 10+ Year Member

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    I didn’t ignore it. At least for me, I acknowledged a bias that I may be less likely to challenge positions I agree with as critically. Fundamental attribution errors and what not.
     
  39. FacelessMage

    FacelessMage 5+ Year Member

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    I'm still a student, and know of a few incidents where a professor has had a sexual relationship with a student. One was at the institution where I did my Master's degree the year before I started. Prof who taught intro stats knocked up a first year intro student. He was subsequently removed from teaching intro stats (and went on leave) and she was removed from the program. Another incident was where the (married) prof had an affair with his undergrad honours student and left his pregnant wife for her. Messy all around.

    Although less common, there's also an incident where a pretty well-known professor in my research circle sexually assaulted a few of his students. There was an investigation into it, but he's still employed at the university, although is alienated from everyone in the department now. This was around the time where I was in the process of potentially working with him. I'm glad my then-mentor steered me away from doing so. I was discussing it with the department chair at my current institution, and she's made it clear that any professor-student relationships are not at all tolerated here.
     
  40. This thread kind of reminds me of arguments that couples I work with get into via text messaging. A lot of reading into subtexts and an increased potential for miscommunication. Some of the psychologists on this board are pretty confident and strong in their assertions. I can think of lots of reasons for that. Some of it could be related to gender issues and some to professional experiences and standing and some to personal background and belief systems. There is also a power differential at work as most of the long-time posters are licensed psychologists and that shapes the communications as well.

    I kind of wonder at this point what the debate is really about. Abusing your power for your own sexual gratification and caising great harm to others is a horrible and descpicable thing. All people, and especially psychologists as we should hold ourselves to the hisghest ethical and legal standards, should do whatever they can to address this. I don’t think there is a poster on this board that wouldn’t. As blunt as PSYDRs post was, it could also reflect how cut and dried he sees this as far as locking these perpetrators up. After all, I imagine he has played a role in that as have I and likely other psychologists on this board.
     
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  41. msgeorgeeliot

    msgeorgeeliot

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    Who else is exhausted from keeping up with this thread, but can't look away?

    I took issue not with the substance of what you believe (police should be trusted, and abuse should be reported), but with the tone with which you gave me advice, apparently presuming that these values and concepts are somehow unfamiliar to me. You know nothing about me (including my race and related experience with the police), but assume that your most rudimentary advice will be received with deference and gratitude. That must be a nice way to move through the world.

    I will be up front. Men in my practice (both colleagues and patients) are my biggest fans. They love to work with me because I'm smart, honest, caring, and blunt. I don't bully men to contort their experience of the world to be beta-males all up in their feelings.

    I am a woman's woman and a man's woman. I love people of all gender expressions.

    And.

    I often don't enjoy this SDN forum because, in my estimation, it is dominated by men who are often aggressive in forcing their point of view on anyone, whether or not said person is actually asking for an opinion. This frequently shows up as forcefulness in applying unilateral logic, as if correctness could be defined by a single perspective. The fact that this meta-dynamic escapes the men who are active on this thread is blowing my mind.

    Male posters on this forum make it obvious that they run this joint, and think anyone who doesn't agree with them is intellectually impaired, and will police any aspect of self-expression that dares to draw outside the lines of Socratic dialogue. Jon Snow, you and I have butted heads on this forum on similar issues in the past, and I respect your kindness and inquiry. Meregold is correct: we need kindness and inquiry at the same time in order to have a decent dialogue.

    I view this thread as akin to road rage. Of course, no one who is a decent, caring psychologist would speak to a patient the way that some of you spoke to me. And no, this is not a forum for group therapy, personal growth, etc. Although I must say that, without intending to pursue personal growth in disclosing my rape in a fog of pain, I have achieved personal growth as a result of engaging with most of you. Is that lame of me to admit? I was raped until I almost lost my mind, and no one noticed. I am anonymous in this community, though many of you know me and actually treat me respectfully when I'm not all up in my FEELINGS. Today, I feel noticed, understood by most, cared for, defended in a loving way, especially by @Meregold, @PhDPlz2011, and @JonSnow, because they take the time to show they care.

    I often leave work late -- not because I'm a shrew with no life, but because I'm a night owl. After 6pm, I always take the elevator alone rather than take the stairs. I carry a whistle that is freakishly loud as I walk to my car. Men, do you have similar thoughts or impulses? Do you assume I'm insane, borderline, deeply troubled?

    I love smart, thoughtful men. They tend to love me. Men are not my enemy.

    In the interest of my own privacy, I didn't report that my repeated sexual assault was a set of distal events from 20 years ago. Apparently the distal nature was a big deal in determining the relevance of your paternalistic tendencies. I am your equal, not a patient, and I do not require advice from a peer on the most basic concepts of justice. Particularly when said advice comes from someone who has probably not personally faced miscarriages of justice that make you question who can be trusted -- your advisor? the police? the president?
     
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  42. itsabitzzzz

    itsabitzzzz

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    Not to steer the situation too far from the important topic of sexual assault/harassment, but I have experience being in a consensual faculty-grad student relationship (same-sex), and I thought my experiences/observations might be helpful. In my case, the relationship started when I was more or less finished with the program but still technically a student (one of "those defended at the beginning of the semester" situations), so it was technically not a violation of any faculty rules, but I think a lot of the issues with power imbalance, etc., were still present. The faculty member was married but told me from the outset of our relationship that their marriage was open to the type of relationship we were having (turns out, it wasn't, which made me feel really awful and naive for believing the faculty member), which added another layer of complexity. I'm in my late 20s, and the faculty member is in their mid-40s. The relationship lasted just under a year, although the first 2-3 months of that could be written off as a close, flirty friendship. The faculty member pursued and set the boundaries (or lack thereof) and romantic expectations of the relationship, but the feelings and behavior, once the faculty member established it as "okay," were mutual. I did try to question or set more normal boundaries at times, but I got gentle pushback for that.

    -The power imbalance never, ever leaves your head: I was always aware that this faculty member could help me if they loved me and hurt me if they decided to stop loving me. This was made worse by the faculty member's policy that I needed to tell them everything about my life and my past and could never omit anything or they would stop loving me. To be fair, they were at least pretty open about their life/past in return.

    -This person was actually a good significant other: Loving, caring, kind enthusiastic--excellent at making me feel valued and loved.

    -The relationship was weirdly public: This is actually why I believed the faculty member about their marriage being open. They encouraged me to be open on social media, etc., about our relationship and were open about it in return. We both had a lot of friends/followers who were faculty and students in the department, so I'm kind of surprised by this. I do wonder if the same-sex component made it easier for people to ignore or explain away.

    -The worst mistake I made academically was collaborating with this person: When our relationship fell apart (e.g., I'm pretty sure the faculty member's spouse found out), our collaborative work was up in the air, and the faculty member actually ended up taking some of my work and presenting it as their own. Similarly, I refused to do that, so I was in a bind, as I couldn't move forward without either their participation or their explicit request to be removed as a co-author and was afraid to contact the faculty member. However, deadlines and collaborator timelines put me in a bind.

    -The best thing I did was be honest with the faculty member's department head: It may help that said department head is/was also a close mentor of mine. It also probably makes a big difference that our relationship just barely fell outside of the guidelines of faculty rules/Title IX and so wasn't reportable (I think the department head had some suspicions about our relationship to begin with, honestly, because when I said that I wanted to consult with him about a difficult authorship situation with a faculty member, he immediately asked if I needed to talk to a Title IX person instead). When my concerns about authorship finally got to the point where I was just stuck, I talked to the department head and laid out the situation in a very factual, verifiable way that also painted my ex in generally positive light. I explained that regardless of our personal relationship, I wanted to handle authorship fairly and ethically. The department head agreed to mediate the situation, and it was incredibly helpful having him on board and knowing what best practices for authorship are, so that I was always acting within them. When my ex basically snapped and wrote me a somewhat vicious email in which they defended their right to intellectual property misuse and attacked standard authorship practices (e.g., asking people if they want to be an author on presentations that go along with an article), the department head was CC'ed on it and actually ended up being amazingly supportive of me and affirming that I had handled the situation ethically and appropriately. Again, this may be contextually specific, but having someone to support me with the academic side of this really helped, especially because it was someone in a position of mentorship and authority over both of us. Without this, I honestly feel like the faculty member would have just completely run over me.
     
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  43. msgeorgeeliot

    msgeorgeeliot

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    I am very torn about responding to your questions at this point. On one hand, they are great questions and my answers might be useful to some. On the other, I worked a 12-hour day and was aghast in catching up on this thread after hours. I'm not a fragile snowflake who needs pillows strapped to her to feel safe, but this thread has ripped my heart open. It is nice for you to pride yourself on not getting angry, but that is not the only way to be.
     
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  44. PSYDR

    PSYDR Psychologist 10+ Year Member

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    That's a lot of assumptions about me, my tone, and background which are frankly incorrect.
     
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  45. Sometimes interpretation of a post is like a Rorschach. We see different things in it. I didn’t read the post advising therapy and reporting to authorities as condescending. Others did. Of course, like the Rorschach, I don’t think we can infer too much from the results. As a psychologist, I am cautious about making inferences of motive and I take things at face value unless there is actual evidence to the contrary. I think it is dangerous ground when we start reading more into things than what is objectively there. I do see colleagues do this at times clinically and it bothers me when they do. We are expert observers, not mind readers. In other words I have found that if I really want to know why someone did something, then I ask the person and then I listen very carefully and non judgementally (as in the open mind sense,not the everything is okay sense).

    Just posting this because it seems like the communication in this thread is more of the issue than our attitudes about sexual abuse and I am sort of an expert on communication. :cool: Although this medium does clearly limit some of that.
     
  46. Jon Snow

    Jon Snow Senior Member 10+ Year Member

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    Given the latter (hearts and such), I would lean to the side of not answering.
     
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  47. Jon Snow

    Jon Snow Senior Member 10+ Year Member

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    Tone and communication issues are easier to discuss than sexual abuse. Probably partially why this thread has gone the direction it has. It’s why I said I didn’t have a problem with anyone’s tone.

    I assume everyone here is against sexual assault and sympathetic to people who have suffered it. Something that could be interpreted as insensitive may merely reflect the medium or other issues that don’t mean insensitivity to sexual assault. Likewise, sexual assault is a difficult topic, especially if you’d experienced it, so one can understand how the sensitivity level might be ramped up.

    Perhaps this reflects some of the gender issue that some posters are bringing up, but I dislike talking about tone and delivery of message in non-message board space. Semantics, sure I’ll beat on that all day. But that’s a different sort of debate, one that appeals to precision of message to me.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2017
  48. Rivi

    Rivi 7+ Year Member

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    I really appreciate the strength of people who have shared their stories with us, and am sorry to hear about these experiences. Consider me honored to be your ally!

    I am a man, and I have experienced sexual harassment (from co-workers and patients in prior jobs), but never within the field of psychology. In regards to sexual abuse within psychology, although I have not experienced or witnessed this firsthand, I do think grad students are a vulnerable group for this. I can certainly see it happening, and believe the stories that are reported. The irony of academia is that it creates such a distinct power hierarchy, while lecturing on the dangers of misuse of power.

    I had one professor who had a reputation of being abusive (verbally) and manipulating students into unreasonable workloads. The administration was incredibly slow to respond to MULTIPLE instances of her doing things that were blatantly unethical and harmful to students (yelling at students in the middle of class, multiple students expressing concerns, etc.). I don't mean to compare these experiences to something more severe. I do mean to point out that these are the kind of conditions that allow abuse to continue. IMHO, the cardinal sin in academia is pride. Admitting that there is an abuser/harasser in a department challenges a department to put its students welfare above its pride/status/image. The choice that leadership makes in this respect is critical to how survivors recover. Lectures on power imbalances and written policies and procedures against sexual harassment mean little to me. Actions speak. Administrations/leaders who hold student/trainee welfare above pride and denial are worth their weight in gold.

    We (including ME) need to admit and reflect on the fact that this can happen in our departments, among our coworkers and friends. We need to prepare for the possibility that someone who we respect, who may hold high status and bring in lots of money to our departments could be doing something like this. This can happen to us and people who we care about. Let us not get complacent. Let us stay vigilant and committed.
     
  49. Jon Snow

    Jon Snow Senior Member 10+ Year Member

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    The reporting issue with sexual assault and harassment is a difficult one. On the one hand, you don’t want the perp to get away with it. Reporting it increases the likelihood that others will be believed with this person in the future. On the other, by nature of the crime unless there is detectable violence that can be distinguished from the act of sex, other complainants, witnesses or other forensic data, a conviction is quite unlikely. It opens the accuser up to substantial scrutiny. I think it’s true that the majority of these situations are not reported, which makes the population that reports likely quite different than the population that doesn’t. I’m not sure what that does to the probability of false accusations. Eg, is the likelihood of a personality disorder higher in the reporting versus not reporting group?

    On an individual level, my perception is reporting is often not the healthiest option.

    I’ve wondered if tweaking rape shield laws might make this easier. Eg, if the accusation is purely he said/she said, perhaps rape shield laws for the accused would increase the likelihood victims might report? Ie. No drama unless there’s a conviction. But, you get the complaint in the system. And, if there is no conviction, or even if no charges pursued, the next incident maybe sinks the accused?
     
  50. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist Psychologist 7+ Year Member

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    Man, I need the Cliffs Notes since my last post on this thread. Seems like this could be broken up into several threads as people are obviously posting past others and having their own conversations.
     
  51. psychology123

    psychology123

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    Reporting sexual harassment and assault is extremely complicated. I'll be a bit vague here because I am concerned about anonymity. I was sexually harassed by a staff member in my department and after a long period of deliberation, chose to report. I didn't want to be seen as an agitator and I felt guilt that this person might lose their job. At the same time, I knew that the behavior was deeply inappropriate and that it wasn't going to stop unless I said something. I did not feel respected in the process of reporting and the reactions of some other students and faculty members certainly changed my perceptions of them, most for the worse.

    I disclosed multiple times before my complaint was taken seriously. I would advise any who consider filing a complaint to know your rights in the process. If you are in a university or college, if you disclose to a faculty member, they are required to report it. This can kick off a series of events that you may or may not want to participate in. I wanted this person reprimanded, so I fully complied and spoke to a variety of people about the harassment.

    If you're considering it, here are a few pieces of advice from my experience for people who are filing complaints in their department:
    1) Find someone more powerful than you to protect you and advocate for you in the process, ideally a faculty member. More ideally, a faculty member with tenure and with power. While Title IX says your complaints must be responded to in a certain way, that doesn't mean that it will happen. Additionally, while you can't be retaliated against overtly, there are many other more subtle ways that people can react - having the support of someone in your department can help with this and set the tone for how others should respond.

    2) Document everything. Write down as many instances of the harassment as you can with dates and with specifics. This will come in handy because people will want to know details. Write down if you disclosed to others and when that occurred - they can corroborate your story if necessary. If you disclosed to any faculty or staff members, write that down too - if they fail to act, this is a serious problem and your institution needs to be aware of that too.

    3) If you're expecting to find justice, who knows if that will happen and what form it will take. Maybe your harasser is fired, suspended, quits, or nothing happens at all. Some other things that may occur: your peers and faculty/staff speculate about who made a complaint and what the content of it was, people defend your harasser, people doubt your story or think you exaggerated, people say that whoever complained was uptight and just "couldn't take a joke." I do think that being part of an institution results in certain biases and that it is particularly difficult when you have to discipline one of your own and deal with the fallout of that. So I suppose I don't blame completely people for their responses, but it was deeply frustrating, upsetting, and disappointing to feel like people were minimizing my experience to defend the harasser.

    4) You may not be the only person who has experienced this. If you decide to file a complaint, it can also be helpful to know if others have had similar experiences are willing to make statements. Beyond that, it's helpful to have a circle of support and people who can tell you that you're not overreacting, that what happened was wrong, and that you're doing the right thing. I did have some people advocate for me and validate my experience, which I deeply appreciate.
     

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