For today’s sexual abuse section, I am going to share a personal story of mine which left me jobless; but for the better. This is an important issue to address because many women and men who are being sexually abused and/or sexually harassed often wonder,
When is enough, enough?
You just never know when you should report it to someone else and this is especially true within the work force.
I worked at a fast food restaurant for a couple of years when I was fresh out of high school and had an incredible boss who is now one of my best friends. Unfortunately, she was sent to manage another store and we were left with a new boss, a male one.
To be completely honest, he was a very likable person; almost like a big Teddy bear. Unprofessional at most, but that’s what you want from your boss when you’re a teen working at just any ole’ regular job. However, it didn’t take long for things to turn sour and for the line to be thoroughly crossed.
It started with little rubs on the shoulders, or sly and sometimes rude compliments but it quickly turned into bold and inappropriate statements, butt slaps and even standing behind the girls, rubbing their shoulders as they tried to prepare something in the back.
One day I was mixing a sauce and he stood behind me and started to massage my shoulders as he put his head on my shoulder from behind. Call me crazy, but that isn’t something a boss should be doing; especially one who was significantly older, married and with 3 kids.
It was at this moment, for me, that was beyond uncomfortable, and it takes a lot to make me uncomfortable, but this was the first time where I wanted to get him to stop but I didn’t know what to say; or how to say it. After all, this was my boss and I needed my job.
Some of you may be wondering why I didn’t quit when it all began, but as an anxiety sufferer and this being my first job, I was comfortable. I knew my job, I knew the customers, I knew the environment and even the thought of quitting to work elsewhere sent my anxiety into high gear.
These situations with my boss continued with myself and other girls. Since it was a fast food restaurant, there were only a few of us that worked full-time, together, with the boss. Things were quickly becoming too much to handle and I started to call in sick on a regular. To be fair, I was sick.
He made me sick.
It got to a point where I decided that I had to report it. I spent so much time thinking about whether I should risk my job, but I couldn’t handle it anymore, and I remember saying to my coworkers that I have a voice and I am bold enough to use it. Some other girls and victims of his actions may not be as brave to say something. So for them, and for myself and for the future girls of this job, I went forward and had a meeting with my boss’ boss and told him my concerns. Many other female coworkers also said something about him being inappropriate with them and also confirmed that they witnessed him slapping my butt or whatever. He said he would speak with HR and my boss, without revealing my identity for the sake of my job, and would get back to me.
I get a call a couple of days later, at work mind you (not too “under the radar”), and he tells me that I would have to move stores if it was that bad. The catch? The transfer would be to a store across the city and instead of 40 hours a week, it would be a mere 15 or something like that. Being at an age in which I was already supporting myself, I didn’t have a choice. I could not take the cut of hours and the long distance of transportation.
So, I continued at my job, trying to avoid my boss as much as possible. I actually feared being left in a room alone with him, knowing sexual abuse all too well. A couple of weeks later, I had a work observation meeting with my boss. To my utter shock, he knew everything I reported to his boss, and he even tried to justify it by saying something along the lines of “it’s harmless”. He was missing the point that it was inappropriate, violating and not justifiable. However, a result of me missing so many days because of his actions, I wouldn’t receive a large raise.
I didn’t care about the money. I cared about the fact that my job was now on the line because I reported it. I called another meeting with his boss’ boss. This time, it was before opening the store in the morning.
He called me out to the lobby and as I was exiting to go there, my boss slapped my butt right in front of his boss. They both laughed and when I brought it up, my boss’ boss said that he didn’t see anything. I spoke with Ontario work protection lines and everything. There wasn’t much that anyone could do without me having to lose my job which was extremely nerve-racking for my anxiety.
I felt my boss and my boss’ boss start to do things to basically run me high and dry. They made my work experience so bad, bullying me for reporting the sexual harassment. I was a b!tch and c-u-next-Tuesday on more than one occasion.
My final straw was when I had asked my boss where some stock was. He led me down to the basement where things were stored. He took me by both of my hands and stood behind me, and placed my hands on the shelf in front of me which forced me to lean forward. My booty was in his crotch.
There was absolutely no need for that. I called my family instantly. I couldn’t handle this corrupt place any longer. I went upstairs and finished my morning prep before the store opened, walked down stairs with my uniform off as my boss said, “What’s wrong, sweetheart?”
I wanted to scream at him, “What’s wrong? What’s wrong!? Do you not remember an hour ago?” I handed him my uniform and said I quit and walked out that door as my coworkers applauded me.
As stressful and nerve-racking as this was, I felt so good as I walked home that day; like an entire world was taken off of my shoulders.
Here’s the kicker though; a couple of years later, I had an old coworker of mine contact me because he took her to his house, served her booze (sje was underage) and allegedly tried to do things to her… In the house he owned with his wife and kids.
I told her I completely had her back and would 100% go to court for her if she needed me to, and to my surprise, when I contacted the HR department for my records of the sexual abuse that I reported… It was never there.
My boss’ boss never ever reported it to HR. So this, “You have to switch to a store across the city” was something he pulled out of his a$$ because he never spoke with the HR department and corporation about the situation.
This infuriated me, and I was so tempted to take legal action but clearly, this was an operation that was even more corrupt than I thought.
Did my boss or my boss’ boss lose their jobs after the head office found out this wasn’t reported? Nope.
However, years later, my old boss is apparently working at the college now. How convenient.
So, when is enough enough?
As soon as it happens because it almost always progresses.
At the end of the day, it won’t stop until someone says something. You might lose your job, which is disgusting because this shouldn’t be a consequence of you being the victim of sexual harassment, but you are the only one in control of your situation. You can hang on like I did for months upon months, afraid to step out of my comfort zone but eventually feeling forced to do just that anyway, or report it immediately, stop it right away and fight for your rights.