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Violence

I should start by saying I was molested by my stepfather at 11 or 12. I have been sexually harassed by an older brother since I was 15. (I am now almost 50) I have been raped twice in my life. The last time was the spring of 2006. A couple of weeks ago a man where I work waited for me to come out of the bathroom and pulled me into a dark room and he didn't rape me, but he stuck his tongue down my throat and had his hands ALL over me.

After a lifetime of this my reaction to men who do this to me is to freeze like a deer in the headlights. Once they have their hands on me, I'm 11 yrs old. I learned to let them do what they want, then they'll leave and I could go on with my life. I have been receiving counseling since the last attack and I thought I was getting better and I said this is going to be a better year for me.

Then this happened at work. He had been stalking me at work for some time, but I am very good at avoidance. But my luck ran out, then I said, this is going to be a better year for me because I'm not going to take this anymore. I went to my supervisor, who I was glad to see was enraged, he took my statement and HR was brought in. One of the first questions she asked me was what was I wearing at the time. WHAT? I actually started to answer her, then I said it didn't matter what I had on, he had no right to do what he did to me. But I didn't have any proof that he had pulled me into the room. But a fellow co-worker had seen him put his hand down my shirt and pull a piece of lint out of my bra. I saw him coming to talk to me and I told my friend to stay put not to leave me alone. And he did it right in front of him!

When all was said and done all they did was to move him to another building. And they dug up anything they could on me to make me look bad. I asked the lady in HR why they made the decision that they did. She replied that there was only one other woman who came forward and accused him of sexually harassing her. And they are supposed to have a zero tolerance policy! So how many women does it take for this company, which is a very large and well-known orthopedic firm, to actually safeguard the lives of their female employee's. And I don't know where to turn for help, and I am very angry that they let this predator keep right on stalking women in the workplace. Please can you help me or lead me in the right direction? I am sick of men getting away with this and I know he will do it again. And I feel like they basically said that I deserved whatever I got from this guy because I joked around with my friends so he wasn't really to blame for his actions! I am so angry! This should not be allowed to happen to me or any other woman working at this establishment.

 

Thanks so much for sharing your story with Feminist.com. As you can see by the number of emails already posted on our site — your situation is sadly not unique — both the repeated pattern of abuse, as well as the disbelief or the pressure to believe men or the system over women or to make women somehow guilty for the crimes against them. Just from reading these emails as well as from researching the subject, I know the truth behind the cycle of abuse — women who are abused at a young age often end up in abusive situations and men who are in abusive situations often end up being abusive. So many of the emails I receive bear this out.

Also, I think that we still live in such a woman-blaming culture — and certainly there are always things we should have done better to protect ourselves, but why is the onus always on those who are abused. It's just not fair. I often advise people to figure out what justice means to them — often it means working with other victims or simply speaking their story. For some it's going to the media or being very public or trying to bring justice in a legal way...so rarely does the latter pan out, which is only a consequence of bad laws.

Specific to your case: you might want to go to the media — expose the company. You also might go back to the company and provide a more detailed account of what happened and say that you are doing this less for you, but more so they can be good on their zero tolerance. I think that people often don't realize how many cracks there are in their system and perhaps if they perceive you as an ally in this — they will be more warmed to better their policies. And of course, you shouldn't blame yourself — which you aren't doing, but I do sense that you think you could have done something differently — and the fact is that you couldn't — it's the system that is so corrupt regardless of how you mess with it.

Amy