#METOO!

#metoo

This is the face of a woman who was also Sexually Harassed.  #METOO!

I almost started not to write this blog but decided I should.  It is time for our voices to be heard and stand together as women against Sexual Harassment.  I guess the reason for my delay in writing was based on my warped thought process of thinking, “I am not a movie star, tv star, public personality etc.” but when I think longer and harder about it, I realize I am a woman who has had to endure sexual harassment in her lifetime.  This should have never been the case but it was.  And…it happened.

I look back to my middle 30s, when I worked in Corporate America, for a well known – down South textile company – I won’t name because it doesn’t matter anymore.  I had worked my tail off for this company for 14 years climbing up the ladder to make more money to take care of my family.  Going to finish my college degree at night – 6 1/2 years to graduating with honors and being promoted over night to a higher paying job in the Corporate Headquarters.  I thought I had finally arrived.  I had finally made it and everything was going to be roses.  Not true!

What I quickly discovered among the female group in the department was they were all insecure about trying to keep their job and be noticed by one certain Vice President.  They spent most of their break time talking about him.  I thought it was stupid.  I mean the man was mean as a snake.  He cussed so much that I could not even bear to be around him but he was very powerful and everyone knew it.  There was this one female manager who had the attitude of what we call a “Boss Lady”.  I eventually figured out she was nothing more than a spy for him.  I stayed away from her as much as I could.  Another lady, who was married, had so-called had a relationship with the Vice President and had to what she thought fallen in love.  She was slipping around and sneaking to meet him while at work he never gave her the time of day.  He even treated her terrible.  I wondered for a long time if she was sort of like a Stalker type.  I mean the man doesn’t even talk to you yet you fall all over him when he walks by.  Strange.

When I got promoted to his department, which was one of the most important departments in the company, I was excited but scared.  Talking to these females on break I knew it was going to be difficult because he clearly had no respect for women at all.  I will never forget the day I walked up the stairs to my new department and new job.  Feeling happy for the increase in salary, I seriously heard the Lord tell me, “This will be the end of you!” I will never forget hearing that voice in my head and thinking, “What does that mean?” I had no clue.  I just moved on up the stairs to my fate.  Immediately he liked me.  He started raving about my work performance, my professionalism, you name it.  The other females in the department would come up to me and asked me why was he so infatuated about me.  I did not know.  I never had really even talked to this man.  I had stayed away from him and worked through my manager.  Of course, the females in the department stated acting weird.  I just thought it was jealousy and tried to reassure them there was nothing to be jealous about.

The day came when we had to go on a trip to Atlanta, GA for a business conference.  The lady who was having an affair with him came up to me and told me – “He will ask the group to go out to have drinks after the meal.  When he offers do not let him buy you a drink or he will think he can talk to you.  When you get back to the hotel, in the middle of the night, he will come and knock on your door.  Do not open the door.  I made that mistake and that is how everything got started with us.” WOW – scared to death I took her words to heart.  I was not about to open my hotel room door for anyone.  During the night, I heard the knock on the door.  He had not bought me a drink.  We had barely spoke during dinner but he had eyed me all evening.  When I heard the knock on my door, I froze.  I slid down in the bed and pulled the covers over my head.  I was terrified.  I pretended to know hear him quietly say my name – Cynthia…

The next morning I acted like nothing had happened but he acted different – cold and very direct and to the point with everything he said.  Not the funny try to make you smile small talk he had the day before.  He was no longer the nice friendly guy who was trying to get to know me.  I had insulted him by not accepting his advance.  I did not open the door.  The table had turned on me and for the worse.  When we got back to the office, his entire behavior was abusive.  He left me out of important meetings.  Claimed he told me but I did not show up.  Left me off emails.  The craziest thing was the other females in the department would not talk to me.  He had told the “Boss Lady” to make it clear he did not want to see any of them being friends with me.  I had become an outcast even to this small group of women.   When I confronted one of them, I was told – yes – they had been instructed to stay away from me.  I had no friends.  I had no job – he would not let me do anything.  I had no career.  I was just there.

The smart thing to do was to apply for positions in other departments.  So that was what I did.  I got tons of interviews because I had an impeccable record with all high scores on performance appraisals.  Several VPs from other departments never followed up with me after the interviews.  I did not know why.  Then one day, I was awarded a promotion based on an interview I had had with a VP in another department from a job opening I had applied.  He said,  “In 6 weeks you can move over to my department.”  I had been honest with him about why I was leaving my current job. He admitted he knew the rumors of the VPs behavior and understood.  He thought it was the right move for me to just get out and move on with my career.  Six weeks passed and no call to transfer.  I walked across the street to the other office building to ask when I would be moving and he looked at me with a sad face and said “Never”, my VP had blocked my move.” How could this be possible.  I had never told anyone about the knock on my door – except the females in my department whom I had sat on break with at one time.  No – one.  He said, “Cynthia, this guy has a lot of power and there is nothing I can do.”  This was on VP talking about another VP.  I knew that day my back was against the wall.  What would I do?  I had worked my entire life to get a better job to take care of my family only to be black balled by a man because I would not open the door.

Being the head strong woman I am – even at the age of 30 something, I went straight to Human Resources.  The Director of HR was a Afro-American Female.  I had started out talking to the HR Manager who quickly sent me to a private meeting with the Director.  It took five (5) meetings with the HR Manger (who was also female) to even get in to see the Director.  I will always remember the day I walked into her office.  She said “Sorry for taking so long to see you but we have a chain of command you have to go through.” I explained I understood and had actually went to my VP immediately following the talk with the VP who was not able to transfer me to a new job.  My VP had told me and I quote, “You will never move anywhere in this company.  You will always be in my department – sitting her doing nothing – unless you come to your senses!” Come to my senses?  What the H…, was he talking about.  I cried on the should of this female Director of HR.  Explained everything and why I thought I had been sexually harassed because of the knock at the door and the comments he made as well as from other females in the department but it didn’t do any good.

Being the “Director” she was, she was quick to tell me unless he put his hands on me or done something sexually inapprioate, I had not been sexually harassed and there was nothing she could do.  What about sexually intimidation?  Is that not a form of sexual harassment?  The slap in my face was when she proceeded to tell me she had dozens of complaints against his VP but there was nothing they could do about it because “he was a producer for the company and they could not do without him”!  “He made the numbers.” Those were her words exactly.  Her telling me he might be moved in 3 years so if I could hold out for 3 years it would all be okay.  It is not okay.  I will never be okay as long as women allow this type of treatment – and the insult to injury is other women allowing it to happen.  This was not a MALE director of HR.  This was a FEMALE director who I thought had power or maybe she really didn’t have any power at all?  I don’t know, but that day hearing those words I lost all hope of staying with that company.  A company I had worked with for 14 years.  My career was over in Corporate America.  I could not be in this type of work environment again.  EVER!

I know the saying, God will never put anything on you that you can not bear.  I prefer to hold on the the saying  – When one door closes another door opens!   I resigned and left with full salary for 6 months, a letter of recommendation, and my dignity.  My last day, I walked into the VP’s office.  As he sat at his desk looking like I man I should have slapped – and I have never slapped anyone in my life, my last words were – “I am walking out the door with my dignity.  You thought you could hold me down under your little figure and force me in a corner.  Well, no one treats me that way.  You can go straight to Hell for the way you have treated me and all the other females in this department.” I walked out and never looked back.  I was shaking like a leaf.  Not knowing where I would go to get another job.  A good paying job to replace the income I had just lost but God had the answer for that – he led me straight to real estate.  This is how I started my real estate career.  I have never regretted that day of walking out.   God’s warning to me “This will be the end of you.” was true.  It was the end of me working at the company.

I think if all females ask themselves “Have I been sexually harassed or sexually intimated?”  The answer would probably be “YES”!  I speak today because my voice needs to be heard and so does yours.  #METOO – God has moved me to a much happier place in my life.  I will admit the pain of the experience lasted for years of hurt and trauma not so much by how this one man treated me – which he caused it all – but by the people he manipulated to do his dirty work – from the other females who walked away from being my friends to the Director of HR who gave him a pass, to the VP who would not take me after I was hired in fear of retaliation from this one man.  Those are the ones who helped lengthen the pain of the experience.  If people would be more supportive and stand up for things that are wrong instead of turning their heads or backs and not wanting to get involved because it is just easier to ignore it maybe something sexual harassment or sexual intimidation would not exist.

I am saddened by the Harvey Weinstein’s , Bill O’Reilly’s , Roger Ailes’, Mark Edwards’ and ETC’s (insert name here) men of the world.  Their behavior is one of entitlement and control.  We can call it whatever we want to – Sexually Harassment etc. but they are nothing more than a Bully.  We must stop the bullying and the intimidation.  We must work to create a world we feel safe to live in by standing up for injustice.  The treatment between both men and women should be equally respected by one another.  I said NO but my experience was just as hurtful.  No one should ever have to say NO because it should never happen.  Life goes on and the passage of time helps but our voices still need to be heard.  God Bless!

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3 Comments

  1. Hi Cynthia, I am so sorry for all that you had to put up with and witness. No woman should be subjected to sexual harrassment , and you were the victim of that. The fact this guy came and knocked on your hotel room door is creepy and totally wrong. It is good that God put you on a new path in life one that you can be your own boss. May God continue to bless you , Terri xo.

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    • Thank you. It was an extremely difficult time in my life. I walked away from the financial security I had built for my family but God has put me where I need to be and blessed me with the ability to help people. Happy Anniversay to you!!!

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