Lauren Ashburn, of the Daily Beast, reports on A Flood of Harassment Horror Stories After the Herman Cain Allegations:
The floodgates burst open.
Moments after publishing a story on how I’d been repeatedly sexually harassed at work—and didn’t do anything about it—an onslaught of emails about unwanted workplace advances began pouring into my inbox. These women, like me, made a decision not to report their abusers.
But they remain angry, even years later, their stories a hornet’s nest of head-shakingly disgusting behavior.
A woman who has since left the media business says: “Working as the 5:30 p.m. producer at an NBC affiliate, I was all of 22 years old. The senior staff was in an editorial meeting. There were no more chairs in the room when I arrived. I said: ‘I don’t have anywhere to sit; I’ll go get a chair.’ The editorial director, in front of everyone, turned to me and said, ‘As long as I have a face, you have a place to sit.’ ”
It soon became clear that Herman Cain’s accusers had struck a chord. A stay-at-home mom who once worked for a corporation told me her boss had said: “You are dressed like a monk today. Don’t come talk to me unless I want to sleep with you.” She described the boss inviting her “to various places around the world in the guise of business. The compliments were unreal and the pressure brutal.” And she spoke of an “eating disorder and crying every day … No one realizes how insidious harassment is and how much of it lives in the gray area of life.” She left the company and started her own business.
Said another: “When I went to HR to complain about harassment and a hostile work environment, the personnel head told me straight out that if I went ahead and filed a claim, I would find it impossible to ever get another job in the field in which I had worked in for 15 years. I also got the impression that it would take a murder for the company to take any disciplinary action against a senior executive. I was scared and felt defenseless, because I had no safety net. So, I continued to work for this psychopath.”
We keep quiet because we don’t want to wade into a “he said, she said” battle. Some women need the money too much to risk losing their jobs. And many know their male bosses simply won’t believe them.
Have you experienced harassment? Did you report it? Why or why not? What happened?