I’ve been trying and trying to write.
Talking to my therapist, trying to figure out why I can’t.
Why I don’t.
Why I won’t.
But that’s a subject for another day.
There is shit going on in this monumentally fucked up world that is making my brain feel too full, swollen with anxiety and doubt and traumatic flashbacks and nightmares. Apparently when my disordered head needs a pressure valve, it can push thoughts through my fingers instead of locking them up where they do more harm than good. I think this is a good thing, except the whole needing a pressure valve thing.
Can we talk about sexual assault?
A lot of people are these days, thanks to a walking piece of excrement named Harvey Weinstein.
I’m a sexual harassment survivor. In my early 20s, I was tormented on a daily basis at work by a talk show host/local celebrity who had absolute control over whether I kept my job. I was isolated in a radio station with this man every weeknight, with nobody to witness my private hell.
I tried to laugh off the sexual comments. I ignored the leering looks. I responded to disgusting propositions with reminders that I had lived with my boyfriend for years.
All of this only made my tormentor more determined.
He brought sex workers to the station one evening, fondling them as he did his show, telling me he’d taken them shopping and to one of the best restaurants in town, scolding me for forcing him to hire them because I turned him down and wouldn’t meet his needs.
If I didn’t flirt with him, he would start taking random calls without letting me screen them first – something that could get me fired.
When I asked him to stop, he came into the control booth, blocking my exit and trapping me in there. He told me he could make or break my career in radio journalism, so I should keep my mouth shut, look pretty, and do my job.
After months of this, I was reduced to weeping uncontrollably before every shift. My then-boyfriend (now husband) wanted to do something drastic, but I wouldn’t let him. This was my job and career on the line. Finally, he told me that if I didn’t go to my boss, he would.
So I walked into my boss’s office and, through tears, told him everything.
When I was done, he picked up his phone and dialed HR.
“I need you down here right away,” he said. “We’ve got another one.”
You can probably guess what happened to him.
I was moved from a job I loved and was good at to a shift that ran from 2am to 10am. A promotion, they called it. More responsibility and occasional on-air credit. And my hours would be completely opposite the hours my harasser worked. That was good, right? I’d be happy with that, wouldn’t need to take this little incident any farther, right?
And I fell for it. Changed my hours to a miserable shift. Avoided my tormentor – most of the time – and had opportunities to build my career and my connections.
For a while, I thought I had it good. Until ratings came out.
That’s when my boss decided the asshole who harassed me should be on the morning show. Totally a business decision, you understand. And he promised to behave. I would be fine.
Except for little things like dirty looks and people whispering and the occasional nasty “prank” like assigning me to get audio or scripts from my harasser – because it was my job and I’d better do it if I wanted to have any future in the news business.
I didn’t last long after that. I gave up my dreams of a journalism career so I could feel safe. I took a shitty job as a receptionist, so I could stop the panic attacks and stop looking over my shoulder and maybe get a decent night’s sleep again.
The fuckstain who made my life miserable had a long and illustrious career. He died about 15 years ago.
I popped the champagne and celebrated. I hope his death was painful.