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Study shows how sexual harassment affects men

Michigan State University researchers have published some interesting and, frankly, disturbing findings about an age-old workplace problem: sexual harassment. When people think of sexual harassment, they generally assume the victims are women, but the reality is that men suffer from sexual harassment, too.

While it's certainly true that far more women than men are sexually harassed in the workplace, the researchers found that men were more likely to engage in what the study calls "compensatory behaviors" as a result of harassment. This kind of behavior can involve eating disorders, as well as depression and anxiety related to body image.

The study looks at the responses from 2,446 participants, who answered questions about sexual harassment. Had they experienced it? And did it have an effect on their eating habits and how they saw themselves?

Previous research has already linked sexual harassment to anxiety, depression and eating disorders, but generally those problems have been linked to the sexual harassment of women. Now it seems that sexually harassed men are also susceptible to compensatory behaviors such as forced vomiting and taking laxatives to lose weight.

The study also suggested that because the sexual harassment of women is so widespread, many women have adjusted their thinking so as to protect themselves from long-term, injurious psychological effects.

Clearly, though, the study should not suggest that simply "getting over" being sexually harassed is a viable answer to the problem. Sexual harassment and other kinds of bullying are still a painful reality in Michigan workplaces, and victims of harassment should be aware of their legal rights.

Source: Medical News Today, "Sexually Harassed Men Undergo Extreme Measures To Control Weight," Joseph Nordqvist, May 14, 2013

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