Quick preface: “Workplace Issues” is a work of creative nonfiction based on my true story of being bullied. It’s told in a series of open letters.
Here is the bottom line; virtually everyone on that team had reasonable knowledge that I was being abused. Despite that the vast majority of you decided to trust his analysis of my character. This is an excellent example of a low team E-IQ. And, that night you informed me that, “no one…believed anything that (I) said” and, “saw through it.”
I seriously doubt that you are capable of understanding this but I would never speak to another human being the way that you spoke to me that night. It isn’t about who they are it’s about who I am.
The next day the manager who abused me asked me if she was, “someone who I picked up in a bar?”
The above has an obvious sexual connotation. That certainly was not his first inappropriate statement. The truth is that she is from an affluent Jewish family and went to Rutgers University. I had known her for years. I had celebrated holidays with her family and she had celebrated holidays with my family. I told the manager who abused me this but I consider it likely that the information was not relayed. Moreover I said, “If you want to accuse me of theft call the police.”
I handled that correctly despite the fact that I was having a traumatic stress breakdown.
If anyone had actually cared if the allegation was true they would have checked the search history on the computer and checked to see if any files had been opened. No one did. Match dot com is blocked on the office computers, or was then. My friend was extremely anxious to know if she had a date. This is hardly criminal.
The perpetrator was looking for a way to discredit me completely. If he felt confident that no one would believe me then he could continue the abuse. My licensed therapist specializes in trauma. A woman fearing for her safety for a prolonged period of time can be as traumatic as rape and that is what happened to me. To put this in perspective when I relayed my experience to a former journalist he said, “It sounds like you are lucky that you got out of there before something happened.”
Sexual assault is about control rather than desire. According to RAINN one in six women are raped in America. They usually know their attacker and these crimes happen at all socio-economic levels. Given his inappropriate and abusive behavior my concern was extremely reasonable. I do not become afraid for my physical safety easily at all. Either he is potentially violent or he inflicted a state of duress intentionally. The other option is that he cannot control his own emotions and which is immaterial.
Retaliation is unethical but it is ethical to hold individuals accountable for their actions. To say that the firm and the team handled this poorly is an understatement.
For future reference kindness is a virtue. It is also a leadership skill and a strength in business.