Andrew Cuomo allegations of sexual harassment are essential. Here is why.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo harassed several women with actions such as kissing, touching, hugging and making inappropriate comments, according to a long-awaited report from the Attorney General’s office on Tuesday.

The bombing comes months after the governor was originally accused of sexual harassment or unsolicited sexual contact by three women, allegations that engulfed his already ailing government. While lawmakers on both sides of the aisle as well as stakeholders called for an investigation At the time and his resignation, others, including Cuomo himself, minimized the allegations.

The allegations range from unwanted kisses to questions from an employee about her sex life to asking a former assistant to play “strip poker”.

Report:Andrew Cuomo has sexually molested several women in violation of the law, according to a report by the AG

In February the governor said in a statement: “Sometimes I think I’m playful and make jokes that I think are funny.” On Twitter, some users suggested that the governor’s behavior was “no big deal”. Some conservative critics of Cuomo expressed their disbelief that such behavior could do so much harm. Commentator Matt Walsh said, “He’s being accused of flirting with a few women and that is beating him up. Incredible.”

The allegations against Cuomo should be taken seriously, experts on sexual violence say, and the tendency to minimize such behaviors shows how normally they have now developed. A 2018 survey found that 81% of women had experienced some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime, and research shows that sexual harassment is widespread in the workplace.

According to experts, there is a wide range of sexual violence. On one side there may be a serial robber accused of rape and on the other a male boss who makes sexually suggestive comments. All behaviors along the continuum are detrimental, and the extent of trauma someone feels is not determined solely by where on a spectrum the act of violence they experienced falls.

“When making allegations with Cuomo, it can be tempting to think, ‘Well, it’s just a couple of comments. Can’t she take it? Can’t she handle it?’ Part of this defensiveness may be because the culture is so bad that a lot of men likely have. And some women, too, and it’s hard to see us in that light, “said Jennifer Gómez, professor of psychology at Wayne State University.

“We have probably all witnessed what happened … and so we find it difficult to accept that we either did the damage or witnessed the damage, and to deal with what that meant for us as perpetrators, as victims, means. as a spectator. “

The effects of sexual harassment on mental health

Sexual harassment in the workplace is an ongoing problem, said Laura Palumbo, communications director for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, and it can include a variety of behaviors, including making inappropriate statements, indecent gestures, suggestive behavior, sexually explicit jokes, emails or texts, and indecent Objects or pictures.

A 2018 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that “sexual harassment undermines women’s professional, educational, and mental and physical health.” Research shows:

“I was so confused and shocked and embarrassed,” one of Cuomo’s accuser Anna Ruch, 33, told the New York Times. “I turned my head away and at that moment I had no words.” Ruch said Cuomo, 63, made an unwanted foray at a wedding in New York City in September 2019 and placed his hand on her lower back, which was exposed. When she removed his hand, she said Cuomo grabbed her face in both hands and asked if he could kiss her before she withdrew.

Former adviser Charlotte Bennett, 25, told the Times, “I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me and I felt terribly uncomfortable and scared. And asked me how to get out of there and assumed it was the end of my job. ”Bennett said Cuomo left her with questions about her sex life and whether she would consider dating an older man , made uncomfortable.

Former counselor Lindsey Boylan wrote in a post on Medium that after being called to meet the governor, “when the black wrought iron elevator took me to the second floor, I called my husband. I told him I was scared of what? that could happen. “Boylan, 36, first made the allegations on Twitter in December, but the story received little national attention. She said the governor once asked her if she wanted to play” strip poker “while she was in traveled on a state plane, and on another occasion gave her an unwanted kiss on the lips as she was leaving his office.

Gómez said research shows that sexual harassment can affect mental health just as badly as a more discreet and more violent form of sexual violence like rape.

Gómez said part of Cuomo’s behavior could be understood in the context of microaggression – the sustained, subtle blows that affect marginalized groups that public health experts say can affect long-term health and contribute to higher rates of mortality and depression .

“It’s the accumulation of these things that are really harmful that really test,” said Gómez.

Equal access to opportunity, she said, isn’t just about getting your foot in the door. It’s about what happens when you’re inside.

“It is important not only to recognize the one-off effects of the harmful behavior, but also how those experiences shape the victim’s daily life, career and livelihood over the long term,” said Palumbo.

The problem with minimizing certain types of sexual violence

When people minimize these types of behaviors, they minimize the effects. Without acknowledging the impact, experts say, culture cannot change.

“Minimization fits in with the larger myth that women often exaggerate sexual harassment claims and make ‘mountains of molehills,'” said Lilia Cortina, a professor of psychology and women’s studies at the University of Michigan who studies victimization of women in the workplace.

“We know from research that myths specific to sexual harassment serve two purposes: denial and justification. That is, some myths deny that any wrongdoing occurred, often by questioning the veracity of victim reports. … When denial becomes impossible, myths justify sexual harassment, in many cases by accusing the victim. “

As Boylan said, “I know some will dismiss my experience as trivial. We’re used to powerful men misbehaving when no one is watching. But what does it say about us when everyone is watching and no one says anything?”

Experts say all allegations of sexual violence must be taken seriously, no matter where they fall on the spectrum.

“We have to check our colleagues, our employees, ourselves,” said Gómez. “As long as we deny the existence of these behaviors, or, in this case, their effects … we are doing nothing to make the world fairer.”

If you survived a sexual assault, RAINN provides assistance through the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE & online.rainn.org).

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