Many of my woman friends have a #metoo story.
It can happen anywhere. Today, we’ll talk about it happening at work. It could be co-worker, boss or other authority figure. Sexual harassment takes many forms – sexist “jokes”, innuendos, degrading comments, silencing, unwelcome touching and advances and some women experience sexual assault.
Many women remain silent about their experience. They experience shame, fear for their job, become dysfunctional, feel helpless and alone, experience health issues and fall into depression.
Let’s be clear – it’s against the law. Many organizations turn a blind eye. There is no safe pathway to raise the issue. Hopefully, the sea of change is in front of us.
Today, I want to share a #metoo story from a reader. She is a successful woman and a survivor. This is only part of her #metoo story. She does not want to share it personally, she fears judgement and how it might affect her career. Now, she has a safe place to tell it. Hopefully, by letting the world know of her experiences, it will help the healing process and help others too.
I am finally ready to share my own awful experiences to encourage other women to share theirs.
When I was 10, I was told to get in a car to take me home by the Assistant Principal of my elementary school. The principal did not take me home. Instead, he took me to a remote railroad yard where he raped me. Apparently, he had some type of venereal disease that created pelvic inflammatory disease. As a result, I was never able to have children. I hated him for this for many years. He was a pedophile, and I hope he feels guilty if he is still alive and sees these reports of famous people getting fired. Actually, I hope he’s dead and no one went to his funeral.
When I was 19, I had a boss who groped me every day while I took dictation from him. He was the Vice President of Human Resources. He was a married man with three children. This continued for five years. He also made me stand still while he took scotch tape and carefully removed dog hair from the back of my dresses with the door closed to his office. It was horrifying. He pretended to be “Father Figure.”
Another Assistant Vice President of Human Resources required that I have dinner with his best friend when he came to town. Then, he threatened me with dismissal if I did not also go with this creep back to his hotel and sleep with him. I retorted by saying, “Go ahead and fire me. I’m not doing this!” He never fired me. I quit.
I was raped by a professor and president of a consulting company when I traveled to the site of his offices and was housed in a very nice hotel. I woke up at 2 AM with this man on top of me ready to penetrate me! He said the front desk gave him an extra key to my room because he was paying for it. I was married at the time and my husband almost killed him when he found out. I never saw him again.
I was fondled during a massage appointment at a very ritzy hotel. I was horrified and couldn’t even speak about it.
I was struck by a man who reacted to something I said. I fell backwards into the refrigerator and then the kitchen granite counter and finally caught my balance. I threw him out of my house, and he wouldn’t leave. I sold my house and moved.
These are the most egregious experiences, but I have had many close-calls, cat calls, and other dehumanizing experiences of men in business who think they are cute and funny saying and doing derogatory things to women in public. Every guy laughs, and every woman looks the other way. WE CANNOT DO THIS ANY MORE.
I have worked in Human Resources for my entire career. Most of the men who were perpetrators were senior executives in the HR department. We need to start at the top, get these people out of their powerful positions. I, for one, will NEVER allow any man to do anything to me. It has changed my personal sense of safety in all business environments: from airports, hotels, and dinners, as well as company events. It has limited my sense of peace and professionalism and has changed my ability to have a close intimate relationship with men in my life. It disgusts me that anyone would have to be subjected to this. I’m mad and the more I hear about others’ experiences, the more I realize that I should have spoken up earlier and more often about this.
It saddens me that a woman has these life experiences. WE, as a society, have to change our mindset. It’s a pattern of behavior that needs to be broken. We need to build people up, and not tear them down. Before #metoo broke, I developed a talk on Silencing Women in the Workplace. If you are looking for a speaker on the topic, feel free to reach out. Having a conversation about #MeToo is important.