Fear of Talking About Sexual Harassment and its Impact

I find myself yet again experiencing something all too familiar; and yet again instead of respecting my boundaries he has lashed out against them.

As a commoner I have experienced sexual harassment in various settings; like in school, on the street, and interpersonally. From personal experience it’s not just a one-off sexual comment that you failed to understand as a joke.

I sometimes think we are quick to judge it as a misinterpretation of intentions, and nothing more.

From personal experience it’s an escalation of behavior that starts off mildly, and can get scary. Sexual harassment the behavior can result in the perpetrator isolating the victim through various means, and causing real harm to them.

In one instance, it was not just sexual comments but serious manipulation.

The person was never a love interest or a date. At times they were a person of power over me (like a coach). I had a coach make sexual comments and gestures at me once while I was training. The attitude then was to see it as no big deal, and to only take action if they were proven guilty. If a teacher or a coach is calling you derogatory sexual names, or making sexual gestures as a way to belittle you in front of a male student they shouldn’t be in that position at all. Fullstop. They should perhaps try hip thrusting gestures in prison and see where it lands them.

He felt he was in a position of power, and despite serious complaints from students and coaches alike he was never held responsible, until people started talking about it. As a young adult there was no regulatory body to actually report the behavior to and the police didn’t think comments were a serious enough issue to investigate. Once his behavior was uncovered (and he was becoming increasingly impulsive), he fled the country.

He left behind a trail of twisted stories on how he used sexual coercion and alcohol, harassment, and isolation. I felt particularly isolated on this team, as he had pre-emptively kicked colleagues off the team who were friends of mine. He deliberately removed any outside influence on me, like friends, who might have shielded me from his behavior. He deliberately chose his victims and bystanders; the result was a largely female team (between the ages of 14-20) with a small group of teenage men (like 2 of them), the rest were young athletes under the age of 12. Anyone that was a threat to his ego was banned or discouraged from his practice.

He justified his behavior as just trying to get closer to me because he felt I was troubled and he wanted to “help.”

Recently I’ve encountered harassment on a more interpersonal level.

I had recently made friends with a dude. I offered him a few rides to Walmart, and lent him a roll of dollar coins (loonies) to do his laundry. He started off with a sexual comment about a skirt I wore when I was driving him, a few weeks ago. He told me I “should’ve drove in that skirt again,” and that, “guys like that sort of thing.” He sent this via text message out of the blue. I tried to think of it as a one off, and I made a comment that I don’t normally dress in a skirt, it’s not my thing.

I made a mental note not to engage or speak to him for a few days and just see what happens.

A little while back he mentioned that my next door neighbour was sexually inappropriate to women.

This particular neighbour tried to contact me by slipping a note under my door trying to be “friendly.” Prior to that, he had drunkenly yelled a few grotesque sexual comments whenever he heard me coming and going. I decided to mention him dropping me a note to this new acquaintance, since he seemed to think he was inappropriate as well. He promptly replied that I should never visit this neighbour and that he would be a detriment to my well-being.

He asked me if I thought he was a creep like the neighbour. I said he’s not as bad (at this point he wasn’t). He asked me if his recent comment upset me. I said it made me uncomfortable. He said he really didn’t mean it and he was just joking, but that he has been called a creep before by his sister-in-law, and wanted to know how he came across. He claimed he was just really clueless and harmless.

Why send a text like that knowing there is a good chance it won’t be well received?

I was willing to let it pass for the time being. I said he was just being a guy. I shouldn’t have said that because many guys have enough self awareness to know when something is making a woman uncomfortable. So many men make women uncomfortable and we are often willing to give it a pass because “they’re men” and worse yet “what did you expect.”

What he did next just kicked the cringe up another notch; it was like he felt he had a free pass to make another comment related to the first one.

It was another sexually teasing comment where he said, ” well fine I won’t let you have a bath at my place.”

I said I’m good I’ve got my own bathroom.

I was planning on taking a brief driving trip and was considering inviting him along. I began talking about the trip asking him if he wanted to come along, but I was quietly contemplating what to do if he continues creeping me out. I figured I could cancel beforehand if he makes me uncomfortable.

As predicted he continued with his sexual joking about me using his shower/bath.

I replied, No.

He again said, “I’m just joking.”

I don’t know if it was the comment or the fact he felt he had to follow it up with “I’m just joking” that made it worse.

I made a mental note about what to say next, and quickly as predicted he made another sexual comment.

I asked him to just stop.

I muted the conversation, decided to uninvite him and decided that he was a poor choice of friend. If he made me uncomfortable enough to not want him sitting next to me in my car then he wasn’t worth being my friend either.

I replied back with an ultimatum. Pay me back the money he owed me, (that he promised to pay me back), and stop talking to me. I called him out on his behavior and said,

“Your comments are not a joke to me.”

I decided to cease and desist. I decided not to communicate any further. We weren’t close friends, and I was just only beginning to know the guy and offered him a ride to Walmart on a few occasions.

I decided not to tell anyone at this point because I figured he must’ve had a clue that his behavior wasn’t welcome. I thought my best plan of action was to completely disengage, and say nothing, even if he doesn’t pay me back.

But…..

I began discovering he went on a smear campaign behind my back trying to insist I was lying about the money owed to him, and possibly about his behavior.

Saying no and calling him out on his behavior threatened him. This is how he expressed taking back control. He took back control not by apologizing but by portraying me in a terrible light and playing victim.

What’s more alarming is how fast that “friend” went on a smear campaign and shared this information with less than savvy characters in the building.

I decided to make a comment to a neighbour to see possibly how far he went on bad mouthing me. I started off the conversation with, “I got into a bit of a fight with _____.”

The neighbour chimed in that he heard all about it. He told me he said I was “lying about owing money. That it was only some small change.”

Sexual harassment is a power play. The words might seem like nothing at first, but the offender is aware that they are stepping out of line.

Through various experiences throughout the years I have heard people with abusive tendencies say these various things:

“I am just really thick, I don’t mean it.” (if you’re aware of it you’re not that dumb and you can change your behavior).

“She’s lying.” (meanwhile her version of events has some truthfully ugly details. What often ends up happening is he’s lying, but social status/ power enables him the privilege of taking no accountability).

“She’s crazy.” (Will try to make the target feel crazy for calling them out, gaslight them, try to portray them as mentally ill to others. I’ve heard some seriously stupid reasoning and “logic” behind this when they get accurately called out. )

“That never happened.” He lies about what he says to you and tries to gaslight you into believing it never happened.

Here is the other twisted factor; Even if there is a lot of legitimacy to what is said by the actual victim, if the perpetrator twists information enough then the victim will be disbelieved via this “reputation.”

If he had left me alone I doubt I would be writing this. He pre-emptively accused me of lying before I even told anyone. He was well aware of the impact of his words and actions.

The less than savvy people in the complex were the ones that tended to believe him.

This how mere comments and not being able to handle “a joke” can devolve into potentially more serious behavior.

He tried to disempower my saying no by character smears. He was so quick to do it that it made me wonder if he had done this sort of thing before.

Adventures on Meetup.com: The Spiritual Guru

Since this Covid 19 thing I haven’t been getting out as much as I’d like. So I have been trying Meetup.com.

It’s not as great as I’d hoped would be. While being adventurous I decided to talk to a life “guru” of sorts.

I’m not gonna lie I think some “spiritualists” are kind of just full of shit. So I thought it would at least be interesting, if not amusing.

The whole meeting went like this.

Guru: “I’ve been able self heal from serious illness.”

Me: “That’s very interesting. What did you heal yourself from?”

Guru: “I had COVID 19.”

Me: “oh my God. Were you in the hospital?”

Guru: “No but one day I went shopping and got very sick in the parking lot.”

Me: “Wait a minute you went shopping while you had Covid 19? Did you get tested?”

Guru: “No I didn’t get tested but I was very sick. I willed myself to walk even though others tried to help.”

Me: “You suspected you had Covid 19, so you went shopping but then decided because of your healing power nothing matters, and you’ll heal because of… your powers.”

Guru: “yes I just healed myself.”

I wish I could buy into my bullshit that well.

A funny thing happened at work…

I was being taught about all the special offers company X has available at my new job yesterday.

Since I am doing everything from home we are being trained via Google chat.  To help me not miss anything I turned on the closed captions to catch the conversation.

Google chat did not disappoint.  Instead of properly spelling company X’s name it just kept referring to the offers in the captions as “conjugal offers.”

In case you were wondering what conjugal actually means it’s when you visit your spouse/partner in jail and you request intimacy during the visit in a private cell.

I couldn’t stop laughing at the closed captions every time the offer was mentioned.

Strange Wanderings: what I saw today

I was feeling pretty cooped up after sitting at my job, so I went for a run.

On the way I ran by a woman in the park who was wearing black lingerie, and had looked like she lost her pants. She didn’t seem to mind and was busy trying on a pair of knee high knitted white socks.

A man who was either aroused or confused, or both, stopped to watch or help, or whatever…

Another 200m later I ran into a furry who was changing into his fox fursona in a parking lot. I hadn’t even run a km yet.

I made it another 4km decided to stop. I luckily ran into a good friend whose number I had lost so we hung out for the night.

It was actually a pretty interesting day. My friend had also witnessed the same woman wandering around in black lingerie as high as a kite.

finding my writing voice…

I tried writing a post the other day but then realized that people might be watching who might not be as in tune with what I am saying, or might think it’s a bit too raw for the audience I might eventually be writing for.

I wrote about exes and men not behaving well and just let the raw side of me come out. This edginess is not really necessary for writing about my visit to the local bakery, but it can be when you want to lay down the law for a man who is pursuing you a bit too aggressively, and disrespectfully.

In a way I honour that bit of edginess because really it is the language of survival. Without it I’d be in a world of hurt.

I had approached the local area BIA and offered to write about, or advertise my experiences with the local restaurants; however COVID is on the rise again.

Some people think it’s a minor illness; other’s like myself know the risk of becoming extremely ill, and dying. It’s no joke to me. So I respect the rules and just try to be aware of my surroundings.

Moving away from Toronto during a pandemic has been a sort of surreal trip. Things are not quite open, and some coffee shops and restaurants will not let you go inside. The occasional trip to a patio is as far as I will go.

I like to visit these places but they may batten the hatches yet again. In the meantime, writing is sort of helping me make sense of things. It is kind of like navigating an alien landscape because in the past I would just go somewhere, and meet people but my choices are limited and sometimes- especially with someone who is behaving disrespectfully- my patience gets worn thin.

I move to a knew place and I no longer learn about the place through seeing the faces of people, and the workers in the shops. Recognizing them is hard when you’re usually wearing a mask.

Staying in touch with family, even the odd meetup where I can socially distance on a walk is good.

So writing is helpful when times are uncertain.

The Fallacy Of Easy Conclusion

Human nature is dismissive. Everyone thinks they have the next person figured out. Nothing is ever as it seems. Sometimes it leads to a better outcome than you could have dreamed. What looks bad today, will definitely get worse tomorrow. Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know. This […]

The Fallacy Of Easy Conclusion

What is my new start beginning to look like…

I am starting a new job on Monday. It will not be easy. I expect nothing to be easy. The job is work from home.

On the side, I am beginning to explore copywriting. How this new beginning in copywriting will look like I am not sure of yet.

I may follow some recommendations by Tina Lorenz. I have also been watching videos by Alex Cattoni as well to build upon what selling myself might look like. I am hoping that my start will bring me the challenge I am needing.

Since this is going to involve a lot of writing please feel free to criticize and comment.

My old boss mentioned that I must be experiencing stress from moving and leaving for a new job. Yes, I unnecessarily stressed myself when I moved, but I was also stressed by the sameness of my old job. From outside appearances it seemed low stress but there were many hidden stressors because I felt uncreative, and ineffectual. I am and still am underpaid. My pay did not reflect that I was a senior staff. It did not reflect my productivity. I felt treated indifferently and sometimes very disrespectfully for questioning a practice, or for calling out something, even when logic would call on the average person to mention something. Despite being a good worker I wasn’t treated like one in so many ways. I felt like a robot with a lot of skill and creativity that just fell on the wayside, that my employer didn’t have the need for.

Where I lived was so unaffordable that my pay kept me living on the brink of homelessness. I was exhausted, and unsure of what next steps to take because even a significant pay raise wouldn’t necessarily ensure better living conditions.

In the end everything I did was to keep me somewhat housed, and disengaged from myself, to avoid big bad scary emotions such as fear. I was lost on how to engage in a way at work that actually brought about happiness. I so desperately needed this to change.

In 2018 I had an emotional shake-up. Something from my past came up and it sent me on a vision quest. I had a strange dream about someone from my past. It was as if the dream was asking me to wake up and become aware of my relationship, and work-life balance. I was living in an anesthetized trap of an unloving and controlling relationship and a fearful mindset. I was afraid of myself, going mad, and losing everything.

I have started challenging myself. Ending certain relationships by asking myself what am I really gaining from this? What am I really gaining from employment that doesn’t make me feel I can even have my basic needs met?

It’s funny that during a Pandemic where fears are running wild, that I am sort of getting it that things are not so scary, and that now is the best time to make much needed change. In the end, a house is just a possession, and these things we own kind of mean nothing. So I am wiping the slate clean and am deciding on happiness, even if it looks like a chaotic mess to someone else.

Life shift

My life is heading in a new direction and I am excited for that.

Like a lot of people I am working from home to be safe during the pandemic. It’s not ideal work but it will do for now.

I have been looking at other alternatives to working from home. One thing I have been looking into is copywriting. I took a specific advertising design course and did well with the copywriting, but once I began applying myself I felt a bit lost and unrefined in my skill.

I went back to working in a recreation centre after that because I simply thought it would make me happy. I was wrong.

I started reinvestigating the copywriting idea again but I am not looking at it as a get rich quick scheme but one where I get to establish myself as a capable and secure person. I began watching Tina Lorenz videos and am letting them sink in a bit. How I decide to apply myself may not look a lot like how Tina does it but it will be under my own guides and principles.

I used to think being a workaholic would get me ahead but what it left me with was feeling unsure, and really unskilled at communicating in the business world. I noticed I am introverted and not a sales person but a diligent worker who tries.

I get anxious easily so I find that holds me back, and I am trying to find the trick of undoing that anxiety, and allowing myself to experience the world as a fallible person and being ok with that.

World Suicide Prevention Day — The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog

Suicide prevention is an essential topic for me because I am a survivor of suicide. My last attempt in 2010 changed my life, and it almost ended. I count myself lucky, and I mourn those that have not been so lucky. I want to share on this day a chapter from my memoir about suicide. […]

World Suicide Prevention Day — The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog

THE IMPACT OF STIGMA ON PEOPLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS

Stigma is when someone sees a person or group in a negative way because of a particular characteristic or attribute. Stigma leads to discrimination. When someone treats you in a negative way because of your mental illness, this is discrimination. Approximately 75% of people with a mental illness report that they have experienced stigma. TYPES […]

THE IMPACT OF STIGMA ON PEOPLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS