Effects of a Workshop Designed to Promote Effective Coping with Sexual Harassment and Its Associated Effects: A Single-Case Design

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Goldfarb, Rosalind Gore
Spokane, Arnold
The effects of training victims of sexual harassment in coping techniques to deal with harassment was studied in a single-case study using six subjects who had experienced sexual harassment. Subjects were six women in their 20s and 30s who were employed in local and government business and industry. All were volunteers who either responded to advertisements in local newspapers or were referred by counselors. Subjects responded to a series of questionnaires about their experiences with sexual harassment prior to and four times following a training workshop in coping techniques. The subjects also completed the Rotter Internal-External Locus of Control Scale prior to and one month following training. Each subject was interviewed before the training workshop. The information from the questionnaires, the interviews, and the Internal-External Scales were evaluated to determine whether Locus of Control was a contributing factor in the subjects' experiences with sexual harassment. Internals appeared more likely to report harassment than were externals and appeared to make more attempts to deal with the harassment than did externals. They were more prone to use avoidance than were externals, who were more prone to use denial to deal with harassment. Prior to training, neither group anticipated being ab le to stop the harassment. Neither behaviors of primary control (assertive) nor behaviors of secondary control (passive) were perceived as having been effective in the past. After training, anticipation of success increased. Behaviors of primary control were anticipated to be effective, but were perceived to be even more successful. Behaviors of secondary control were anticipated to be ineffective (Pre- and Post-test + (5) = 3.85, p <.05), but were perceived to be possibly effective (+ (5) = 7.75, p <.01). Physical symptoms declined following training (+ (5) = 3. 78, p <.05), while emotional symptoms remained unchanged for the group. Generalizations from these data are severely constrained by the ex post facto single-case design which was imposed after extensive attempts to recruit subjects failed. The evidence tends to indicate that training victims in techniques to cope with sexual harassment alters their anticipation of success and thereby encourages them to attempt new behaviors. It was also observed that all subjects, regardless of locus of control, were lacking in confrontation skills, a factor which appeared to be related to their experiences of sexual harassment.