When I decided to blog about lifestyle and beauty, you dont always expect that sometimes life moments can inspire you to write more personal. This whole Harvey Weinstein mess is really starting to mess with my emotions. Sometimes we think we “forget” certain memories in reality we have only pushed them back, far back, back that we think we are free from all the pain and emotions that ensued during that time of the memory being created.
As I read opinions of different sides of this sexual harassment case – those in defense ,those who feel the women should have came forward sooner, and those who are totally for the victims. The topic of sexual harassment in the workplace and in general is now a hot button issue. One that I personally feel should be talked about, not swept under the rug.
I find myself getting upset, angry, emotional reading opinion articles and starting to share and tweet my feelings. Then it hit me, write about it. Write and share my story.… because yes I have a story, I ve held onto it for over 10 years…..
I was 16/17 years old working as a waitress in a restaurant, I worked with my classmates who also happened to be my teammates. It was great, quick and easy money, all of the staff mostly hung out after work. There were some older workers in their 40’s two to be more precise, they were cool , they were related , cousins to be exact.
The male in this story was a nice man at first, he loved saying my name because its Spanish and the fact I was half Mexican we connected as he would try to speak Spanish to me. I dont remember how it started to be honest, I know we were friendly enough were we would hug each other hello and bye, here I was a young teen girl , I guess I should have known better then to allow that physical connection with a older man – Thats what I ve told myself for years. I should have known better, I ve told myself that as well.
It got to a point , this man got really into giving me hugs and always want them, it got to a point I would even avoid him at times, he started to look at me in a different way and I knew then he liked me, more then I ever liked him.
His hugs became different as well over time,more tight, close, kisses on the cheek, then starting to feel me up . on my butt, sometimes chest.
Then one day he did it again, and it hit me so hard the uncomfortable feeling, i screamed NO in my head and I remember backing away and saying ” thats enough” , I went into the bathroom and started to hyperventilate and cry. I knew the whole time it was wrong and this time it just became so overwhelming, I was so uncomfortable. …. no Violated… I felt VIOLATED .
I didn’t know what to do, that whole day at work I felt so…. dirty and wrong. A friend asked me during the shift what was wrong and because we were close, I finally told her. She hugged me and kept telling me that I needed to tell someone, it wasn’t right and she noticed something off about him too.
I was scared, would I even be believed? Would his family that worked there be upset and try to come after me? I didn’t know.
I told my manager with my friend by my side. He was upset and left the office, a few moments later he came back and said he told the employee to go home immediately. I was asked to do a report and then asked if I wanted to do a police report. I asked for some time because it was becoming too much. The next day his cousin who is female came to me at work crying, begging and pleading with me to not press charges and tell the cops. She wanted me to spare him and let it go. ” he didn’t mean it,”, ” he thought I liked him” , “please dont put him in jail” . All these I remember so vivid even over 10 years later. I actually felt guilt over possibly ruining a man’s life. Can you believe it GUILT.
Discussing with my close, friends and coworkers, we discovered that his family was planning on taking him back to the his home country so If I did file a report they couldn’t find him. I literally felt like all was being done to protect him and save him but what was being done for ME? Nothing, I was instead being asked if I did do anything to encourage him , to be more mindful of my behavior, to help protect him, because he is actually a good man.
The person who felt violated was asked to protect and help the person who made her feel that way.
I never did file a report, I felt like even if I did, what would come of it? He was being sent back to his country, he wouldn’t be found and it was my fault right? RIGHT?
I then placed blame on myself and tried to sweep it under the rug, in the back of my mind. Move on and just have a tale of some creepy guy at work who tried to push up on me.
Its quiet moments that memories creep up and when a news worthy story about a hollywood tycoon that bring up so many memories and emotions.
Some people just dont understand that it takes strength to step up, strength in numbers, encouragement and then there is embarrassment, fear and self doubt. There is so much that comes into play. At times im sure those victims felt like they were the only ones. They also had alot at stake, it was choice they had to make for themselves and for their future.
I wish I could tell people that its just not that easy to come forward and the mental anguish that comes from a situation like that stays with you forever. So you getting upset with those that took too long to come out or because you feel you had a great relationship with that person doesn’t give you the right to negate those that were hurt. Accept those people and their experiences and show support. Thats all we ask, because what we felt and went through was real and trust me we have already beat our own selves up for you.
** If you or someone you know has been sexually harassed at work or anywhere, tell someone, file a report and dont be afraid to speak up. Take back the power that was taken. read here for more info on sexual harassment