Kiss Self-Doubt Goodbye! by Barb Petersen-Fox, LISW

Kiss Self-Doubt Goodbye! by Barb Petersen-Fox, LISW

One of the first things I hear from clients who have experienced harassment at work is that they have begun to question their own behavior.  Did they inadvertently give mixed messages?

Let me be clear, sexual harassment is never OK.  

As women, most of us have been raised to be polite, and to play it safe.  We should have been taught how essential it is to stand up for ourselves when we are being mistreated.  

It is very common to have self-doubt, and to have a critical inner voice, that tells you that you deserve this, or somehow you brought this behavior upon yourself.  This voice is WRONG!

There are several ways to subdue and even shut down self-doubt and a critical inner voice.

First, ask yourself what you would tell your best friend if she were in your shoes. Chances are, you would be kinder to your best friend than you would be to yourself. Remind yourself that everyone deserves to be treated in a professional, compassionate, and respectful manner.    

Second, reach out to friends and family for support.  You deserve their support.

Third, document the daily issues as they arise.  Trust your instincts.

And, if you find yourself struggling with anxiety or symptoms of depression (for example:  panic attacks, feelings of dread, changes in sleeping or eating patterns) search for a therapist who can help you take a look at your situation with fresh eyes.  

Remember, you are not alone.  Help is available. The fault lies with the harasser, not with you as the survivor.

Barb is a licensed counselor with Clarity Counseling in West Des Moines, IA. She is a contributor to Step Up, a newsletter focused on shedding light on the issue of workplace harassment, bullying and retaliation in the workplace. More information on her work can be found here: You may contact Barb at

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