I Did Not See This Coming


It started about a year ago; my co-worker was being a bit too friendly. He was about six years older than me, and at the time, I was still only a minor. He was very shy around certain people, including managers and older employees, and was seen as a sweet gentleman. Once I started to get to know him, he became a friend, but he quickly turned into my very own abuser. I didn’t know how he would be until I became his prime victim.

A year before, if you were to ask me who was most likely to be a sexual predator at work, his name would have been very far down the list. I never saw him or this situation coming. He started with a few sexual remarks and then went on to sexual questions and finally to offer and ask for many sexual things. He would pass comments about my body and would often watch me at work.

I never spoke up and thought that I would be able to make him stop by asking nicely. This didn’t work so I became direct, mean and harsh, but once again, this method did not work. It encouraged him more than anything. As the situation got more intense, I decided to talk to a few of the girls I trusted. I found out that he had done a few of the same things to others but nothing as bad as what he was doing to me. The word got around to the younger night shift employees, including some of the guys, who all saw me as their little sister. Once they knew how bad the situation had gotten, they never left me alone with him.

He had my phone number and he added me on to a few social networks. I no longer felt good about myself because I felt like an object and I felt constantly being seen this way, not only by him, but also by everyone else because of him. I was no longer happy to go into work and I stopped wearing certain clothes, even if I knew nothing was really wrong with them. I always felt nervous going into work, not knowing if he’d be working at the same time.

I was a victim of sexual harassment but I never spoke up to a manager because I knew they respected him. Unfortunately he did not respect me. This harassment lasted nearly six months. It became almost normal to me to get this treatment from him. I began to notice how other men would stare at me and it became hard for me to appreciate compliments and smiles from strangers. I was no longer able to feel appreciated by my boyfriend because I couldn’t help but question his words and actions because they always brought me back to the predator at work.

The situation ended only when he quit his job. I have never had contact with him since, and haven’t spoken of this in depth to anyone because it puts me back to a feeling that I don’t want to know anymore. From October through April, this was an ongoing issue and I should have spoken up about it. I deeply regret not “telling on him” at the time. I felt as if it nothing would change him — whether or not he was fired or got a written warning. In my head having him fired would just mean he would go get a job elsewhere and do the very same thing to someone else.

I do believe that I am today a mentally stronger person and I am proud that I stood my ground even if I knew it would encourage him to continue. I am not afraid of him anymore. I am in a better place and have gotten over the incident with pride. I am now back to the happy and confident person that I used to be. I do believe we need to speak up to others because we aren’t alone. I also know my case is not an extreme one, but living this for six months did have an impact in the long run.