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Encouraging survivors of sexual harassment to come forward

Posted at 11:34 PM, Aug 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-10 23:34:03-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — This past March, when Governor Andrew Cuomo said he “never touched anyone inappropriately,” Brittany Commisso knew she had to say something. The former executive assistant is one of 11 who said she was sexually harassed by the governor.

Before the alleged encounters, she testified that she would take what happened "to the grave.”

“Women often don't feel comfortable coming forward at all because of how they're treated,” explained Lisa Coppola, with the Coppola Firm. She defends survivors of sexual harassment. She also defends people who are accused of sexual harassment. Coppola says the governor resigning was a positive step for those who have been or are being harassed.

“We know that the law will actually protect victims or survivors of this sort of harassment in the workplace,” said Coppola.

Lindsey Rickard with BestSelf Behavioral Health Inc., says Cuomo’s resignation is bittersweet for survivors.

“Yes, a little validation,” said Rickard. “But, at the same time, still saddened that it's still happening and that is so prevalent in the workplace, not just in the government, but just in workplaces in general.”

Rickard's advice for anyone, if you see something off, don't be afraid to say something.

“You see something inappropriate, even if you're not sure, check in with that person. Maybe, just by checking in, that'll validate them to be able to seek help or to at least advocate for themselves and make sure that they are able to reach out and get services or help if they need it,” explained Rickard.

Help is available for victims of sexual harassment or abuse:
Crisis Services in Erie County: (716) 834-3131
Crisis Services in Niagara County: (716) 285-3515
BestSelf Behavioral Health: (716) 884-0888