Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Taking it seriously
It is the time of the year, that my office requires all staff to take an online class or or two. Usually ethics, every second or third year workplace behavior. This year's issue is sexual harassment. This has drawn the typical jokes, like we don't need training on that, we are pretty good at it without training, and others are offering tips on how to breeze through the 30 minute online curriculum in under 10 minutes. I want to tell them to quit joking and take it seriously. It is a very serious issue, I have told few people about this but I was sexually harassed and it is a miserable experience that leaves you feeling powerless.
My harassment came from a licensed clinical social worker, who was the sole expert witness in a case I was court appointed in. He was the social worker at the nursing home where my client lived. The first time I met him was in his office at the nursing home, his fly was unzipped and he was noticeable aroused. On the day of the trial he followed me into the men's room in the Court House and stood next to me doing things you shouldn't do in public. Later in the hallway outside the Court Room he made remarks about it. His acts were unwelcome and made me feel very uncomfortable.
I reported the behavior to my boss who laughed and said to stay away from him. Difficult to do when he is the sole expert witness in the case. I thought about reporting to the judge, or his employer, but couldn't get the words to come out. He made me feel debased and powerless. I am usually very strong, especially when I am angry, but this was different, I felt powerless against a predator.
No one should ever be made to feel the way he made me feel. Here I am 10 -12 years later and it is still hard for me to talk about.
A year or so later the nursing home closed and was torn down. I mentioned to a friend that I hoped the staff social worker was inside when it was torn down. She said, oh him. Everyone knew he had problems.
Sexual harassment is very serious issue. It hurts people, it is not fun, or funny. Don't stand for it, stand up for those who are preyed upon.