If you haven’t heard, the recent sexual assault accusations against American film producer Harvey Weinstein have sparked a social media campaign to bring attention to sexual harassment and sexual assault. Started by American actress Alyssa Milano, the viral #MeToo campaign encourages victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault to show their support and tell their story by using the hashtag #metoo. Within a matter of days, this trending campaign has ignited a nationwide conversation about sexual harassment and sexual assault as well as society’s treatment/response to this issue. In particular, this movement has shed light on sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace. From human trafficking to instances of sexual violence, this is no exception when it comes to the trucking industry where stories of sexual harassment and sexual assault go unheard. Today, we will be addressing sexual harassment in the trucking industry and how we can work to stop this issue one day at a time.
#MeToo: Addressing Sexual Harassment in the Trucking Industry
What is Sexual Harassment? What is Sexual Assault?
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports that about “8% of rapes occur while the victim is at work,” but is sexual violence exclusive to rape?
To start off, sexual harassment is not exclusive to one gender. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment is any unconsented or unwanted “sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” Sexual harassment can include verbal and nonverbal forms of harassment. Here are some examples:
- Inappropriate sexual comments or jokes about/towards a person
- Suggestive sexual verbal commentary
- Inappropriate/unwanted touching
- Catcalling or exemplifying inappropriate gestures
According to RAINN (rape, abuse & incent national network), an anti-sexual violence organization, sexual assault is defined as any sexual act or behavior that does not include consent of all parties involved. This includes rape, forced of engagement in a sexual act, or any unwanted touching.
Sexual Harassment in the Trucking Industry
In collaboration with The Investigative Fund, a Mary Review article discusses sexual harassment in the trucking industry by detailing the story of Cathy Stellars, a truck driver who experienced sexual assault from her truck driving instructor. The American Trucking Association reports that the trucking industry consists of about 5% women truck drivers. In a male-dominated industry, female truck drivers are usually the primary target of sexual harassment and sexual assault. According to the article, there were about 270 women who filed a lawsuit to the EEOC towards trucking company CRST in 2007.
What Can You Do?
- Assign a Check-In Person: An important resource to help protect yourself is to have a point person to check-in with during every stop. If you are going to be driving long distances, it is helpful to have someone who you can check-in with to ensure that you are safe throughout your travel.
- Understanding Consent: Although every state has different distinctions about what consent is, it is important that there is an establishment of consent. Remember that saying “no” and/or changing your mind does not entitle you to anything – those factors constitute a lack of consent. The use of pressure and/or intimidation is also a form of sexual assault.
- Be Aware of Your Surroundings: When you are exposed to a new environment, stay cautious and be aware of your surroundings. If you are faced with an uncomfortable situation, make sure that you analyze your surroundings for possible escape routes.
If you are a victim of sexual violence, there are a lot of resources available to help you throughout this ordeal. Treatment consists of therapy and speaking with a professional. If you or someone you know have experienced sexual assault, you can contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 for confidential help.