A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Feb 5, 2018

When Sexual Harassment Occurs at a Charity

Sexual harassment, in its many forms is an abuse of power that gratifies the harasser, but, is also always accompanied by a demand for secrecy. Typically, the threat takes the form of "if you tell, then terrible things will happen to you" or, "tell whoever you want because you won't be believed".  Victims, women, men, children, often accede to silence as the disparity in power is real, people don't listen, and one could try to fight and still be shoved to the curb, blackballed as a trouble maker, and viewed as a victim of hysterical and wishful fantasies.

What happens when the work place is a mission driven charity? 

In assorted accounts of the HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) sexual harassment scandal it was revealed that victims were also told to stay mum lest they hurt the movement or cause suffering to animals. This is coercion on steroids as presumably the belief in the mission of the organization is the tie that binds victim and abuser together. It is holding an innocent, or vulnerable living thing hostage, to be harmed if you speak out. Imagine telling someone in a pro-life organization that if they report harassment and disrupt the work and reputation of the company babies will die. Imagine the same regarding AIDS work, child abuse, bullying prevention, or the care of veterans. Of course, one could posit that taking down someone like Harvey Weinstein could negatively affect his capacity for philanthropic giving. True, but his victims may not share his charitable leanings, let alone, be working for said charity.

In other words, you must be groped for the greater good. Truly horrifying. It is unconscionable and a level of harassment that must not go unnoticed. 

spcaLA has always sought to speak for those most easily exploited and abused. In 1877, we incorporated to not only protect animals but also women and children. At the time, all were considered property under the law.
For 140 years, spcaLA has been independently serving the Southern California community. We are not an affiliate or chapter of HSUS, nor any other spca or humane society.

Your spcaLA is in the business of preventing cruelty, which includes abuses of power in all forms. 

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