To The Woman Who Says That She Witnessed me Attempting Theft: Careless and Socially Irresponsible

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.

To the Perpetrator: Really now?

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.

At one point you were giving me advice on how to interact with a client. You said, “You will feel it.”

I certainly don’t need advice on how to follow my intuition from you, enough said!

Let’s end the silence to end the violence!

With sexual harassment, sexual assault and bullying in schools and workplaces silence is the norm. With gender based and sexual orientation based hate crimes silence is the norm. Silence cannot create social change, ever. The norm is completely unacceptable.

As Warren Bennis, one of the world’s authorities on leadership, observes in his work “Transparency” it is nearly impossible to suppress information now. These usually are not actually instances of he said and she said, he said and he said or she said she said but instances of all of the parties who do have reasonable knowledge being complicit and unwilling to speak.

Unfortunately our social norm is to turn a blind eye and consider the abuse to simply not be our problem. This happens with bullying in schools, on college campuses and at workplaces. It happens with violence against women be it harassment, assault or domestic violence. It happens when individuals are targeted based on race religion and sexual orientation also. As long as it is socially acceptable and considered normal behavior to observe abuse complicity and par-take in victim blaming tragedies such as the recent series of suicides* will be common place.

There have been more suicides that we don’t know about than we do.

Included in this site is a model that most victims of severe harassment or bullying could duplicate effectively. It holds the perpetrator accountable for their behavior. It holds the institution responsible for neglect. It’s effective at correcting unjust damage to a victim’s reputation by exposing the truth and putting a stop to victim blaming.

This is a real situation and I personally was assaulted. The company acted with gross neglect and flagrant disregard for law. Unfortunately, this is still common with gender based hate crimes and bullying.  It happens in work places and universities.  Companies, intuitions and perpetrators count on the victim’s silence. Let’s speak!

Until very recently most people were unaware of the high coloration between bullying and suicide. This doesn’t just happen in schools and on campuses. It also happens in work places. We know that there are adult suicides for the same reason. Work place abuse can cause post traumatic stress disorder and suicidal urges are a common symptom of PTSD. Unhealthy and unsafe places of education and work are unacceptable.

Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to end all abuse. It’s absolutely possible to have a zero tolerance policy toward abusive behavior of any nature in any one environment. We know this because it’s been done successfully by many companies and universities.

Moreover, these are public health risks that many people are unaware of. Confident and assertive individuals are at a higher risk for work place abuse than others. Frequently, bullies and predatory individuals are motivated by jealousy. One of my goals is to prevent this from happening to others. Please take a moment to review the section categorized, “Early Warning Signs” and forward it to your friends and family.

In preventing hate crimes, violence against women and suicides due to bullying every voice matters, including yours! One person cannot break this silence or create change but as a team we can. Please take twenty minutes to join our team.

We don’t need your money or your time, we need your voice!

To the Current Manager

This isn’t your fault at all and believe it or not I actually feel badly for you. The unfortunate truth is that most professionals have witnessed work place abuse, frequently gender based, and done nothing about it. You didn’t actually witness it but you clearly had reasonable knowledge. I consider it extremely likely that your attempting to handle this in the ethical and legal fashion would have jeopardized your position at the company. It’s quite common that companies retaliate against the victims of harassment and anyone who aligns themselves with them. Since one of your supervisors had reasonable knowledge I feel confident that the corporate culture includes covering things like this up and turning a blind eye. Who knows, maybe they will prove me wrong. But, this wasn’t your fault, even if you were the one who referenced the perpetrators notes.

Honestly, when someone has to choose between their own job security and taking the ethical course of action most will chose their own job security. That is a complex moral decision, not a simple one. And, I’m not saying that’s what did happen it’s just an educated guess. It’s exactly why most people remain silent and turn a blind eye to this type of thing.  The bottom line is that one of your supervisors had reasonable knowledge and this isn’t your fault, at all.

Simply put, it isn’t ethical to hate someone or try to ruin someone because they did what is considered normal within their own society. However, as long as the silence continues these tragedies will continue. Some are teenage suicides due to bullying, some are sexual assaults that go unpunished by our legal system and even universities and others are cases of workplace abuse so extreme that they are traumatic be they harassment, assault or otherwise. We are also typically silent about domestic abuse and child molestation, both of which are disturbingly common.

In short, we are silent about abuse of women, other minorities and children. This isn’t okay. I have always been quite passionate about women’s equality and I see no distinction between women’s rights and human rights. If I were to remain silent then I would be an incredible hypocrite. Moreover, these are human rights violations and public health issues. Something must be done. And, nothing will be accomplished as long as silence is the norm. The silence can only be broken one voice at a time. And, every single voice actually does matter.

But, I don’t hate you and I hope that you aren’t used as a scrape goat or ostracized. What you did is considered normal by society and it’s what most people in that situation do. It’s the social norm that is evil and wrong, not you or your team members.

Mission statement!

 

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This is one ethical, legal and effective solution for holding perpetrators of workplace abuse and / or sexual harassment and / or sexual assault accountable for their behavior. Social media offers several options here. Abusive individuals count on their victim’s silence. So do many companies and some places of education. The goal here is to break the silence, create accountability for the perpetrator, and hold the company responsible for neglect. This is what is effective in my situation and something similar to it would be effective in many situations. It’s a model that can be duplicated. However, sometimes creating accountability is as simple as a face book post. Usually, it’s more complex than that but I’ve seen it work in at least one case. Again, the goals here breaking the silence and creating accountability!

I plan to execute on this around the Holiday Season, wish me luck! 😀

Also, I’d love to hear about other instances of breaking the silence and creating accountability. There are several effective solutions and I’d *love* to hear about as many as possible. Guest posts on this topic are *extremely* welcome!

FYI: These are excerpts. The full project is below in the other section titled “Breaking the Silence and Creating Accountability.”

To the Team Implicated: You all do know that you are guilty, don’t you?

A friend of mine called your firm and asked about me a few years ago. The team member who he spoke with practically hung up on him. If I was actually an insane petty thief who were lacking in aptitude and intellect then you all would have absolutely nothing to be afraid of, now would you?

You do all know the truth already. I can understand exactly why you are afraid.

You have excellent reason to be!

Quick note to readers: “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.

 

Hey peeps, this is a letter of apology.

Dedicated To: Hendric, Morgan and Ashleig

Hey peeps, this is a letter of apology. You were owed a world in which you all can live your lives safely and in peace. Less than fifty percent of you will inherit that. The horrifying truth for those of you who are female is that one in five of you will experience sexual assault or attempted sexual assault in college. You will find a legal system that will not provide you with justice. You are likely to find that your university is more concerned about protecting its reputation than your human rights. They might even try to silence you about the tragedy. Almost all of you will be the target of gender based disrespect or love someone who is. I am extremely sorry that we let you down.

This sounds like a digression but it isn’t. I was in high school during the nineties. Before the nineties gay and lesbian rights were virtually unheard of. Open disrespect of gays and lesbians was completely socially acceptable. Prior to the nineties it was dangerous for people to be openly gay because they might become the target of violent hate crimes and they had little to no legal recourse. They lived in fear. I know that it’s hard to imagine now, but it’s true.

There was a lot of activism for gay and lesbian rights during the nineties. Probably the most important part of that was the One in Ten Movement. I was a part of that one. There were three things that I loved about it. A friend of mine is a lesbian so I was helping someone who I love. Also, I was creating important social change. This is the mind blowing one. What you had to do to be a part of the One in Ten Movement was *almost nothing!*

So, I’m creating a model that doesn’t cut into your time for enjoying life because we want to keep our priorities straight! All that you had to do to be a part of that movement was learn to recognize homophobia and correct it when you saw it. And, back then it was so common and intrinsic to the culture that our gay and lesbian friends had to coach us on it and explain it to us. However, it’s now 2010 so I’m just including video clips. When we heard homophobic comments we had to say something like, “I have a lesbian friend and I really don’t appreciate that.” Obviously, around ten percent of you will need to be a little more motivated than that. But, I want to make this as simple and easy for most of you as it was for me.

Thoreau writes that, “Wisdom is not gained but lost with age.” It’s similar to Jay-Z’s, “Forever Young.” Warren Bennis, the world’s authority on leadership, observes that leaders see what, “could be” rather than what is. There is another group who is capable, willing to, and excited about seeing what could be. It’s you! It’s one of the wisdoms that Thoreau refers to. I hope that you all will keep it for the rest of your lives. And I hope that you will use that wisdom today. Obviously, some of you will need to do a little extra work, but for about ninety percent of you creating real social change is as simple as watching a few short video clips and making a few simple decisions.

A world in which one is physically safe and treated with respect is a birthright.

Go claim your birthright!

To my Mentor: I’m sorry, it’s the worst thing that I’ve said to anyone in my life!

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You and I had a mentor-protégée relationship and not a romance. It was a touch confusing from the outside because we had a fair amount of casual sex. From the inside our relationship was extremely simple. We had a mentor-protégée relationship with benefits.

In the summer that we parted company you pointed out that you knew me like the back of your hand and that I knew you like the back of my hand. At that point in time you expressed concern that you were doing something that might have been hurting someone else. Then you said, “You can’t accept this can you?”

I told you that I couldn’t. I’m deeply sorry for that. It’s literally the worst thing that I have done in my life. I thought that I was being a strong person and a wise person. Truthfully, I was being a deeply unappreciative person and a fool.

As you know, a sales manager abused me. In this work I’m referring to him as, “The Perpetrator.” It’s interesting that I can define him as the perpetrator of sexual assault while defining myself as a survivor rather than a victim, isn’t it? But, I digress!

You also know that he was extremely threatened by me professionally and that his first move had been to try to manipulate me out of reinforcing my skill set at management. I’ll address why I didn’t feel it at first later. But, I did feel it enough to take control of the questions at one point. Candidly, immediately prior to that he had said, quite arrogantly, “Will you feel it? You might.”

At any rate, I took control of the questions and he got past me anyway, at least at first.

Honestly, he had to offer me a management position in order to get me to accept a position. On the night that we did the paper work he told me that he would promote me within three weeks. Within seventy-two hours he told me that he wouldn’t put me in a management position at all because he, “wanted” me, “focused on myself.”

When I offered my respectful resignation based on that he became horribly threatening and abusive.

I last saw him in person at his investment property the following summer. He was my client again at that point in time. I had accepted the listings with the specific caveat that we meet in person within seventy-two hours. I was going to end the relationship in that meeting, or attempt to again, and I thought that if I did it in person he might be respectful. I’m aware that my logic was completely irrational but it’s impossible to think clearly when one is suffering from nightmares and flashbacks, like I was at the time. Moreover, denial is quite common in these situations and I was suffering from it. As usual, he broke his word.

I met him by accident at his property. At that point in time I said that I thought that I would have been, “successful” at my position if I had been, “managing.”

He replied, “I agree with you.”

At that point in time he had asked me to go to another company, “do ten transactions and come back.”

I suggested that we end the “relationship respectfully” because we were, “not the right match professionally.”

Instead of acknowledging my statement he changed the topic by saying, “You’re big like me, I’ve seen you do it.”

He was referencing the point at which I took control of the questions.

In the following month he became so violently verbally abusive that three days later I suffered anxiety so severe that I had to call nine-one-one because I thought that I was having a heart attack. When the paramedics picked me up they thought that I had been attacked. When I told a paramedic that I had not he said, “I don’t believe you. But it’s okay, you will tell the doctors the truth.”

I notified him of this and he showed no remorse.

You taught me management. You taught me Drucker, Bennis and Kanter.

You taught me that what big people do is fix their mistakes and apologize.

Thank you for teaching me management!

Edited on December25th, 2010.

Quick note to readers: “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.


To the Perpetrator: If a tree falls in the woods does it make a sound?

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You isolated my three biggest strengths as creative problem solving skills, communication skills and consultation skills. You were praising my creative problem skills. Systematically giving approval for creative problem solving won’t strengthen those skills at all. The only way to teach creative problem solving is by setting an example of seeing problems as opportunities. Anything else is ineffective.

You represented a reputable firm when I met you. That firm is a nationwide name in real estate. Business consultants were attempting to teach agents to apply a certain innovation. Indecently, the fact that pricing appropriately and doing the basics of marketing and consultation well is considered an innovation is bizarre, but I digress. Anyway, you had no confidence in your ability to apply that material and you did have confidence in my ability to apply it. Obviously, you had absolutely no business trying to teach me anything about communication or consultation. You should have been asking me questions!

Here is an underlying problem with all of your selections. None of these are specific skills. They are all skill sets. You build the skill sets one skill at a time. You are doing a process that most people can’t feel in a way that is completely ineffective.

If a tree falls in the woods does it make a sound?

By the way, the answer is no.

Why should I talk about abuse?

Yea, neither do I. But, as long as sexual assault, sexual harassment and domestic violence are shrouded in silence they will continue to be common place. We have to talk about them in order to make them stop! The exact same principle applies for bullying in schools, on college campuses and workplaces!

Besides, we are doing it in such a way that we are demanding social change.

That aspect of it can be a lot of fun!