Digital Marketing

Was that sexual harassment?

It was the year 1991. She was 24 years old and four months pregnant, but she did not appear. I was three years in an abusive marriage, not physical abuse, but mental. I had been laid off from my previous job and I needed this job. It was my first real job as a paralegal. It was a time when you could smoke in the office, right on your desk. He was 33 years old, he was a lawyer, head of the Legal department and vice president of the company.

I was at this job for ONE WEEK and had to work late. He was sitting at my desk, alone in my office and without saying a word, he walked in and grabbed my face and started kissing me. He was so shocked and paralyzed and unsure of what to do; I just waited for it to finish.

It was over almost as soon as it started and he left my office, and I wondered if I had imagined it all. I packed my things for the day, left the office without a word, drove to my prenatal appointment, where my husband was waiting for me in the parking lot. Remember, our marriage was already on life support, but as soon as I saw him, the first thing I did was kiss him. She didn’t know what to do, she didn’t know how to tell her, she was afraid to tell her and she was shaking like a leaf.

He demanded that I tell him what was going on, which shouldn’t be the first response when your wife kisses you, but it was in that relationship, so I told him. Her reaction was anger. But the anger was not initially directed at my boss, but at me. How could you let something like this happen? What were you doing to encourage him to kiss you? After what seemed like a lifetime of screaming, she finally said, I’m going to talk to him. I begged him not to say anything, we really needed the work, I would take care of him and we were going to be late for the doctor’s appointment.

The next morning, after a half hour argument with my husband informing me that I had BETTER take charge of the situation, I drove to work wondering how the hell I was going to do that. I sat nervously at my desk, alone in my office when he came in first thing in the morning. He started to say that he was sorry and I blurted out “I’m pregnant.” I was a paralegal so I knew I couldn’t be fired and I was sure I wouldn’t do anything to a pregnant woman.

But he was cunning, he had done this before, and he saw me as prey. I was vulnerable. I was hungry for attention, compliments, and reassurance that I was smart. She told me every day that I was pretty and since I was very good at my job, she kept giving me bigger and bigger tasks. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, we were on the company’s private jet flying to an audience I didn’t really have to attend. That meeting ended in a hotel room, and that was the beginning of a four-year relationship.

I don’t remember who actually finished the adventure because it was a shit show in the end. I was getting ready to leave my husband, he was accused of embezzling money from the company, and I was under a cloud of suspicion, because “she was sleeping with him, how come she doesn’t know anything?”, but I didn’t I knew it. His wife left him, he lost his license to practice law, he lost her house, but he managed to stay out of jail. I was left picking up the pieces of my life.

It took me years, and I mean years, to find my self-esteem. During those years I heard about women who were victims of sexual harassment, but I never considered myself one of those women. I struggled with the fact that it turned into a long-term affair, so how could it be sexual harassment and was it the story on CNN that made me stop and wonder? A story so similar to mine that it brought back too many memories before I finished my morning coffee.

I am not ready to say that I was sexually harassed yet, but I am ready to say this; NO woman should be sitting at her desk and having to worry about some random guy walking in and kissing her. NO woman should feel useless. NO woman should be afraid to report anything to her superiors, for fear of losing her job. NO woman should be afraid to tell her husband about her harassment because he would be mad at her.

Tell someone that it’s not okay and that you didn’t do anything wrong.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *