DENVER (CBS4) – From newsmen to politicians to any business across the country, stories of unwanted sexual advances are rampant right now. If it feels like you’re hearing more about it, that’s because you are.
Yet what’s happening nationally is empowering victims locally. As more high-profile cases make headlines around the country, more victims of sexual misconduct in Colorado are finding the strength to come forward.
“It’s amazing,” employment and civil rights attorney Paula Greisen said. “Men and women are stepping forward saying this will no longer be tolerated.”
Greisen says the allegations from Hollywood to Capitol Hill have created a movement. She has seen an increase in clients coming to her office to expose wrongdoing, especially in the workplace, and it’s changing how some employers react.
“I’ve seen some of the worst sexual harassment happen at the hands of small business employers,” Greisen said. “Now, for the first time, companies are saying, ‘Whoa, stop the train. We’re going to take a really hard and serious look at this.”
And this movement couldn’t come soon enough for Teresa Hailey.
“When it happened to me, I had no voice,” Hailey told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann.
Hailey said her former boss sexually harassed and abused her for years. She explained he would force her to perform oral sex in order to receive a paycheck.
“I contemplated suicide when it happened,” Hailey said. “Still even now I do. As a victim, one of the things I experienced is that I’m scared to death of everything.”
Hailey said it took a long time for her to leave her job and take a stand. Now that more victims are coming forward around the country, she’s found new strength in herself and hope for the future.
“I’m just happy that it’s coming out, but it’s the tip of the iceberg,” she said.
She also wants other survivors to know you don’t have to be rich or in the spotlight to make your voice heard.
“What’s happening nationally is opening up conversations where once those doors were closed,” Hailey said.
Greisen added often times money prevents victims from coming forward, so her office often takes sexual misconduct cases free of charge.
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.