When I was a banker, I remember one female director who tried to score with one of her male employees. He was 5 years younger than her, and married. She, on the other hand, just got divorced. And the separation with her ex-husband didn’t go so smooth. As she was the boss, her employee didn’t have the guts to tell her to drop it. She pursued him with multiple attentions. She called him all the time, including when he was at home after work. All of his colleagues were jealous because they thought he was privileged. But for him, the situation became nightmarish. Since he had the opportunity to change for another company, he chose to ran away from it. When you are in such a situation, this option is probably the best one. He told me that she stopped pursuing him when he left for his new company. But he also told me he changed his phone number, “just in case”.
Unfortunately, this easy way out isn’t always possible when you’re involved in a case of sexual harassment. When you’re a student and promised to a brilliant destiny, you will hesitate to change your school establishment in the middle of the year if one of your professor developed a bit of an obsession with you. When I was in College, my essay promoter (he didn’t try anything with me) had his eyes on a fellow student, who was blonde and had an affection for mini-skirt. She was really attractive, and she was also brilliant. We used to spend our lunch time at the university cafeteria, and so was he. He often went to talk to her at her table. I didn’t hear what he told her. When we had the Journalism ball in the middle of the year, she came with her boyfriend. Our professors, including him, were invited and present there. At the end of the evening, he rushed toward her and her boyfriend, and told her to dump that piece of trash who didn’t deserve her for him. In front of all the students. After that, she became sad, she didn’t make any effort anymore to dress properly. She abandoned her mini-skirts. She told everyone she couldn’t handle the pressures of studying, and that if she had all those high scores, it was because she sacrificed every other aspect of her life. So, just before our sophomore year ended, she quit our College. I still remember some of the male students criticizing her for dressing like a bimbo and reaping only what she sowed. I know she took class to become a pupil teacher afterwards. She could have been a great journalist, but she decided otherwise, because of my professor. Her way out must have been really painful and heart breaking for her. She wanted to be a journalist since she was 8 year-old. It’s hard to assist to that: seeing someone’s dream lost, the one they never thought they would lose.
Recently, one of my friends, who’s also a journalist, told me about her strange experience. She has the impression one of her contacts is constantly playing with her nerves. “It’s a matter of scoops. If I don’t do what he wants, he just chose whoever in another newspaper to give him the scoop, because he knows my chief editor will get mad after me. Example, in a press conference, if I don’t look at him, he will be pissed. If I declined one of his invitations to come with him in a seminar abroad, it’s the same. Recently, there was this big event organized by his company in London, and I refused to go there, simply because it didn’t concern my topic. Just before this, I had an interview with him, and he asked me to respect an embargo. During the event, he spilled all the informations to all the journalists present there, so basically, my interview was simply useless. And our newspaper was the only one not to get the information, because my colleague hadn’t had a clue about what he was talking during the event. It’s like that all of the time” she said. In my professional career, I know that a CEO should never ask you to come directly with him in a press conference or a trip abroad. This task is especially dedicated to the press officer. My friend is afraid of him, because he’s very powerful. I’ve never known my friend so angry all the time. She doesn’t sleep well, she has lost a lot of weight, I’m really worried for her. Maybe she should ask her chief editor to drop the coverage of her sector. When you’re trapped in a situation like that, I think taking your distance is the only way valid. But it’s not easy.
And it’s not because you yield to your harasser’s advance that you’re necessarily done with the harassment. Remember that you can fall under the influence of a narcissistic pervert, who needs you to feed his/her narcissism.
So, have you ever been a victim of sexual/mental harassment? And how did you get out of that situation?