Do you know how does it feel to feel afraid of saying “I was a victim too”? A few years ago, I used to work in a Hospital in Caracas as part of the administrative staff. It was the dream job until one day I had a terrible experience. I was sexually harassed by one of the medical personnel in a couple of times before I had the chance to say something about it but I became too scared and I remain silent. This decision took me to a different path, far from what I was expecting. My plan was to grow in that job that I loved but because of my lack of confidence on reporting the incident I lost what would probably would had been an amazing advance on my career. Although, my silent could have affect someone else’s life, but I did not have the chance to find it out. When we keep delicate information to our self that might had help others, counts as a lie.
Sexual harassment in the work place is something that a lot of women have experienced and could be very problematic. One incident is enough to make the person to feel intimidated, to feel uncomfortable and to feel afraid, especially if the aggressor is on a high position. On my experience, this situation left me with a loss of confidence as a worker. I could not apply for another job after I quitted because I was feeling afraid of the who could be my superior. Even though, I reported the situations several times to someone on the same hierarchy level, his associate, I was not take serious, he thought I was exaggerating the incidents. Then I decided to investigate if I was the only victim. I found out talking to other ladies of the staff that I was not the only one, 4 from 6 women had experienced harassment in the past by the same person but because he was someone with power, nothing has been done.
Expressing my nonconsensual to the behavior to the aggressor just put me on the spot and it was just me against him because I did not talk when I needed to do it. Going to work started to feel like I was running a marathon and I had problems concentrating on my task because I was feeling afraid that in any moment he could show up and yell at me for talking to someone about his behavior. A positive effect of that uncomfortable experience was that the female staff started to work more as a team, was a kind of union on the environment that made us feel we were not alone on that fight. Of course, I was feeling better but the guilt was still there.
Jodi Picoult said: “Seeing her sitting there unresponsive makes me realize that silence has a sound.” Keeping silence may get someone’s attention to our pain, but it is not certain. Today I understood that remain mute was not the best choice but was I was young and I did know what it was more important, my sanity or my job. We must understand that the nature of this incidents is not the victims fault but keeping the true it is. Fear is optional but anger should not be the answer either because comes with regrets. It does not matter if the lie, or secret in this case is big or small, a lie is a lie and it should not being kept especially the ones that can impact negatively other’s people lives.
Today, I understood that it was not my fault what happened, that I should not had feared doing the right thing, which was reporting the incident to someone who could solve the situation. Do not stay silent ladies, talk!!!
“A woman is not an object. She is not something; she is someone. You treat a woman with respect. She is not your toy. She doesn’t owe you anything just cause you are a man. When she come to you for comfort, you listen to her; you don’t make a move on her. Grow up and start treating women how they deserve to be treated”.