How Sexual Misconduct Reports in the Media Helped Me Speak Out
It seemed like a dream job.
And like most things in life that seem too good to be true, it was. The unsolicited sexual comments and inappropriate touching began on my first day, but I was so excited about the job itself and about finding suitable employment after a year-long hiatus that I didn’t say anything. On my third day, after suffering a sleepless night resulting from sexual harassment the day prior, I confronted my boss, the perpetrator, to which he responded with shock and feigned hurt. I sensed his insincerity because I had heard rumors about his inappropriate and demeaning behavior against other young women in the community prior to taking the position. But I erroneously hoped my experiences would be different or that I’d be able to put him in his place and make the abuse cease. Unfortunately, the behavior didn’t stop, and I reached a breaking point after keeping it hidden from almost everyone around me or downplaying it. A job I had been so eager to go to became a source of dread and fear. When his sexual advances were shot down innumerable times, he began demeaning me — contradicting himself, shooting down my suggestions, then doing precisely what I’d suggested and giving me no credit. He admitted early on that he is a master manipulator and can get anything he wants from someone given enough time. Thankfully, his methods didn’t work on me.
I was torn. I wanted desperately to keep the job, but it meant working shoulder to shoulder with him, which my mental health and dignity would no longer permit. I was going to just quit, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to live with myself knowing he’d go on to abuse somebody else.
In the past few months, the mainstream media has exploded with a significant wave of victims coming forth regarding workplace sexual misconduct. While deeply saddening, rage provoking, and disturbing, it has also been inspiring. Issues which people have fearfully remained silent on for so long are rightfully being put into the spotlight, and these victims are finally seeing some justice and vindication. As terrifying as it was, I knew I had to follow the lead of these courageous people and do the same.
After breaking down to my therapist, we outlined an action plan I followed the very next day. I sought legal counsel, and they drafted a letter to mail him outlining my reasons for leaving. It is considered a “constructive dismissal,” as opposed to a resignation. I am speaking with a human rights lawyer and will be taking my case to the human rights tribunal. I am extremely depressed about the job loss, and I’m working through the self-blame and shame that can accompany this type of experience. I can only hope that by speaking out and holding him accountable for his behavior that this will have a positive outcome. If I can prevent even one woman from experiencing the abuse I was subjected to, that will be a victory.
If you are considering coming forward, please do. This type of injustice and power abuse must stop.
If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.
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