Local psychologist explains why sexual harassers think their behavior is acceptable

CHARLESTON, WV (WCHS/WVAH) — The floodgates have opened: A slew of public figures have recently been accused of sexual harassment or misconduct. From politicians like Alabama Senate Candidate Roy Moore, to Matt Lauer–a host of NBC’s “Today Show.”

“The phenomenon we’re seeing now is unheard of,” said Dr. David Clayman Ph.D., a clinical and forensic psychologist. Clayman says he’s never seen anything like what is happening now, with so many women–and sometimes men–coming forward with claims of sexual harassment.

He says at the root of sexual harassment, is the want to gain power. “A narcissist will continue to do their behavior as long as they can get away with it. And if no one stands up to them, it reinforces the idea that what they are doing is okay.”

Many accusers, like those of politician Roy Moore,claim the harassment happened years ago.

And while a person can make accusations anytime, there’s a time limit for taking the matter to court. Charleston based attorney Mike Ranson told Eyewitness News on Wednesday, “You have two years from the last act of sexual harassment.”

Ranson says physical evidence can help your case. “Messages, emails, and sometimes there’s pictures.”

Sexual harassment itself can be hard to define. “It goes from something someone said to you, to light touching, all the way to extreme physical,” added Ranson.

Whatever the definition, society’s views on what is and isn’t acceptable is changing–with more and more people empowering one another to come forward.

“Maybe what it’s going to do is make women more aware that they have more power than what they thought they did,” said Dr. Clayman.

Dr. Clayman says it’s important to note that men are victims of sexual harassment, too.

If you feel like you have been harassed in your workplace, make sure you let your managers know about it, in writing.

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