An investigation released Thursday by the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault found that sexual harassment and other forms of sexual misconduct were ubiquitous in Garden State politics.
More than half of those polled, 57%, said they had experienced harassment while working in New Jersey politics, with women reporting harassment at higher rates than men, 64% to 28%.
“This report shows that we have a major problem of misogyny and harassment in New Jersey government and politics,” said Patricia Teffenhart, executive director of NJ CASA.
Most often, survey respondents reported having experienced verbal remarks of a sexual nature, 23%, sexist or misogynistic comments, 22%, or unwanted touching, 15%.
Nine percent of respondents said they had been subjected to persistent and unwanted sexual gestures and sexual advances, while 6% said they had received unwanted messages, videos or images of a sexual nature.
Six percent said they had been sexually coerced, while 3% said they had been raped or sexually assaulted and 2% said they had been harassed or seen obscene images in their workplace.
The survey found that elected officials, 22%, were the most common source of the misconduct, with 13% reporting misconduct by partisan political agents and 12% reporting the same from staff at an elected.
“We had over 500 responses to the survey, and 57% of those surveyed indicated that they had experienced sexual harassment during their work in NJ politics. This number is simply unacceptable, ”Teffenhart said. “We are calling on our leaders now: stop excusing bad behavior. Make changes today that can help prevent violence in the future. The data is clear – the status quo can no longer be accepted. “
Another 9% reported misconduct by lobbyists and 6% said they had been victimized by activists or advocates.
The survey indicated that knowledge of the abuse was widespread, with 63% of those polled saying they had witnessed some form of sexual harassment or misconduct. Women were more likely than men to report witnessing any misconduct, 68% to 58%.
Campaign staff and consultants were more likely than others to report witnessing wrongdoing, with 77% of them, although 76% of lobbyists said the same.
Activists were the least likely to report witnessing abuse, although a majority, 55%, said they had.
In most cases, respondents said they had been harassed by a coworker, 28%, although a similar number, 23%, said they had been harassed by a supervisor who was not their boss or manager.
Forty-one percent of elected officials who reported harassment said a coworker was responsible.
Most often, the harassment took place at outdoor events that respondents had to attend in the course of their work, 38%, although a similar number, 35%, said they had been harassed in their workplace.
Only 1% of those surveyed reported their harassment to the authorities or lodged a complaint with a government body. Most, 52%, told a friend, family member or colleague about the harassment, while 21% did not tell anyone.
None of those who reported their harassment to law enforcement were satisfied with their experience.
Most often, victims did not report their attackers for fear of reprisal, 18%, or for fear of social backlash, 15%. 17% did not report the misconduct because they thought it would not help.
Most respondents, 69%, said they did not know how to report sexual misconduct.
NJ CASA recommended increased training on reporting misconduct and responding to such reports, as well as the creation of centralized non-partisan reporting systems and changes in cultural norms to encourage witness intervention and reduce acceptance. wrongdoing.