This post was originally published in Her World magazine.
Amy, a supporter and volunteer of our Aim for Zero campaign, penned her experience with workplace harassment in a powerful essay on Her World. Thank you Amy for sharing your story!
It has been nearly three years since I was sexually harassed. My boss used what I had believed to be a work meeting as an excuse to set out his sexual fantasies of me in graphic detail, and to proposition me repeatedly.
Pinned into a corner and physically unable to escape, my immediate refusal was treated as the start of a negotiation. It would be two hours before he finally took no for an answer and allowed me, shaken and frantic, to leave. It has been two years since I managed to leave the company and escape the pervasive culture of gaslighting, intimidation and bullying that followed my numerous attempts to report my boss’ behaviour – to management, to human resources, to anyone in authority who would listen. It was nearly a year after I first reported the incident before anyone took me seriously.
After months of trying to make myself heard, numerous meetings with human resources and discussions with senior personnel, I was told that upon eventual confrontation by the senior management of the company, my harasser had broken down and tearfully admitted what he had done, saying that he deeply regretted his unprofessional behaviour.
My relief at this point was tangible; the only thing I had ever asked for was an apology. Finally, a solution was in sight. Maybe, now life could go back to normal.
Just days later, however, he did an about-turn and “changed his mind”. Of course he had never been inappropriate – I had, he alleged, made the entire thing up. His earlier admission was never mentioned again. From that moment on, he was the person whom everyone believed. In the face of clear and overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I was the liar.
Branded a “troublemaker”, I was hauled, alone, unprepared and without notice, into a meeting with other senior management who demanded that I stop speaking about the harassing and bullying behaviours that I was, by then, experiencing on a near-daily basis. I was told that I should be aware that any reports I had made were damaging and stressful for him, a man many years my senior. I was, according to them, bullying him.