And so it Begins…
And the day came, when the courage it took to stay tightly closed in a bud was more painful than the courage it took to bloom. This is the element of freedom.
~ Alicia Keys, The Element of Freedom
Today is that day.
Today is the day that I start to tell my story…Today is the day that I invite you to tell me your story… Today is the day that, together, we start the dialogue about how we can bring peace to the workplace and, together, end sexual harassment and the retaliation that often comes when people stand up for themselves and ask for the harassment to stop.
I have been sexually harassed, I have spoken up AND I have been retaliated against for having done so. I eventually lost my job, my career and have had to rebuild from the ground up.
I tried to do everything right in standing up for myself while at the same time manage through the retaliation. I only recently realized in hindsight that the people I had been dealing with were not and probably are still not ready to resolve the conflict and work toward achieving strong, mutually respectful working relationships so that we could become an A-team, together.
Expecting a different outcome from them is the definition of insanity. I can, though, expect a different outcome for myself.
I am not the only one to be sexually harassed. I am not the only one to be retaliated against for standing up for myself. An average of about 13,700 sexual harassment claims have been filed with the EEOC every year for the last 15 years. That’s almost 206,000 claims. These are only the ones where the man or woman victimized has chosen to stand up and ask for the behavior to stop. There are many cases in which the victims stay silent. Sadly, unless we do something to break the cycle, the behavior will continue.
Thanks to years of therapy, I know there is another way to break the cycle of pain and achieve restorative justice…
Through sharing, discussion, and the voluntary choice to change, we can each make a difference in each other’s lives for the better – from a place of love, hope and mutual respect.
By creating this blog, where victims of sexual harassment and retaliation can share their stories and offer 2-4 ways that their experience could have been better or made less painful, I hope to provide a place where healing can happen for the victims. I hope to also provide a place where those who are ready to learn how they can make little adjustments in their behavior to make a world of difference to the people they work with.
This website will not be a place to “throw stones.” It will be a place to share our stories without blame and without malice. Because in the telling, comes awareness. In the awareness, comes healing. Through the healing, comes community. Where there is community, there is support. Where there is support, there is progress. Where there is progress, there is change – one person, one community at a time.
So, I invite you to share your story, share your resources, and help yourself and others bloom. This is the element of freedom. Today is the day I wish to bloom. Today can also be your day to bloom. Like the person in Portia Nelson’s Autobiography in 5 Short Chapters, I invite you to walk down another street with me. Have courage. There is a world of people out there ready to help you.
Not yet courageous to voice your story? I get it. It took me 7 years and a lot of therapy in order to be here today sharing my voice. I did not know who to turn to and trust. So here is a first step…If you have been a victim of sexual harassment or retaliation for having stood up for yourself, on the 5th day of every month, buy yourself some flowers, wear a flower dress, put a flower in your hair. Even a single bloom will work. Then wait to see how many other women do the same. If you have a new bouquet, and she has a new bouquet and it is the 5th of the month… perhaps you have something in common. If nothing else, you have purposely and positively acted to brighten your own day. This is the first step to healing and recovery.
Tomorrow is the 5th. Invest in bloom.