Chicago, IL- Throughout college and their working lives, many women and men alike will encounter sexual harassment. It happens with such frequency that many people shrug these incidents off and go about their day, but when left unaddressed, sexual harassment can be toxic to the victim,  classroom or workplace.

Sexual harassment isn’t just a singular sexist comment or lewd joke shared between coworkers. These one-time incidents, though frustrating, probably won’t have a long term effect on the parties involved. Sexual harassment is repeated behavior of a sexual nature that is annoying or troublesome to the object, and  can include unwanted touching, comments and sexual advances. Victims feel embarrassed, humiliated and suffer from anxiety.

Many people, who are sexually harassed either at work or on a college campus, don’t report the incidents or the harasser. They want to get through their day with as little conflict as possible and they often  fear retaliation. But not reporting sexual harassment is toxic to the victim’s personal well-being and makes for a hostile workplace. For these reasons a person should never let sexual harassment go unreported.

Recent studies have shown that sexual harassment can affect the physical health of the person being victimized. In a 2008 study, researchers found that victims of sexual harassment experienced elevate heart rates, stress and other physiological effects that can lead to cardiovascular disease.

Victims of sexual harassment can also suffer from insomnia brought on by the stress and anxiety caused by their harassment. One night of missed sleep is not that bad, but chronic insomnia can be very unhealthy for the victim and will have an impact on their job performance which in turn affects their coworkers.

More often than not sexual harassment will affect the psychological health of the target. This behavior eats away at a person’s self-esteem which in turn leads to depression. The victims are plagued with self-doubt that can linger long after the harassment has stopped.

Sexual harassment can also lead to post-traumatic stress disorder if severe enough. The victim will often replay the events over and over in their minds and find themselves avoiding places, people and situations that remind them of their harassment. Women in the military who encounter sexual harassment and assault are four times more likely to suffer from PTSD.

The law recognizes the emotional and physical issues that arise out of repeated sexual harassment and therefore allows  victims and sexual harassment attorneys to seek compensation for the suffering a victim endures.

Sexual harassment doesn’t affect everyone the same way. Even when the target doesn’t feel the emotional or physical effects of this inappropriate behavior, they need to speak out and take action. Filing a formal complaint gives an employer the opportunity to address complaints and discipline the perpetrator. Should and employer fail to take action or punishes the complainant, then the victim has the right to file a formal lawsuit.

If you are experiencing harassment at work but are afraid to file a formal complaint, you should contact a Chicago sexual harassment attorney. Having the support of an attorney can give the victim the strength necessary to speak up about their harassment and make certain an employer takes responsibility for allowing the misconduct to persist.