ROBYN H. JIMENEZ | 1/28/2018, 5:01 a.m.
The Dallas Examiner
Pandora’s box has been opened and she is angry ... and it’s about time! For far too long women have been silent as men treated them like sexual objects in the workplace, in their community, in school and even at church. Meanwhile, as men have stood around and bragged about their sexual encounters, patting each other on the back; women have had to endure the burden of being harassed and not knowing who to turn to or what to do about it.
And it may seem so simple to report sexual harassment now, but it’s been a long, torturous journey. For so long – even now – women have had to weigh the consequences verses the circumstances of reporting sexual harassment. Do they stay in that situation, say something to someone in charge, a supervisor or human resources, or simply just leave?
Women who considered reporting the sexual harassment or rape have had to consider one or more of the following:
• Fear of not being believed – it’s usually his word against her word. And even worse when it is believed that the harasser is a good-looking, successful, powerful and/or wealthy man or a highly respected man that they feel could not have done such a thing.
• Fear of judgment – people may immediately consider her physical looks to determine if he would want to address her sexually. If they consider her attractive in anyway they may wonder how she was dressed, or if she was too flirty. If she tends to party on the weekend, they may consider that as well. Or maybe she dated someone in the office before, so she must be a woman of loose morals.
• Fear retaliation – if he doesn’t get fired he could make things harder on her. Co-workers could accuse her of lying and she becomes ostracized at work. If she was flirty, some people could say she was asking for it. Supervisors could make an example of her.
• Fear that the report will be ignored – absolutely nothing could happen. He doesn’t get fired and she has to continue working with him or around him everyday, empowering his actions while failing to consider the emotional impact on her.
As a result of these fears, many women have just chosen to leave the job or try to ignore it.
At first, I tried to ignore it when it was happening to me. Initially, it seemed to be innocent flirting. But when I told him that I was not interested, he persisted. And the more I asked him to stop, the more aggressive he became. I was in my early 30s at the time. He was an older man and his advances felt “dirty.” I was the quiet type and friendly to everyone. I had just made a career change and was trying to find my spot in the field. But more so, I just wanted to be able to provide a comfortable lifestyle for my son and me. But I was so close to leaving because I didn’t know what else to do. This monster was finding pleasure at my expense and I was considering giving up a career that I loved. It was then that a co-worker asked me what was going on and was able to give me advice on how to handle the situation. I handled it and it worked. But regretfully, I did not report it for many years.