Hands Off: Sexual Harassment in the Workplace 

By: Emily Miller 

I was working late one evening at my job for a big special event at my job. I was very frazzled running and up and down the stairs, as all of our most important clients were in attendance, and I was in charge of making sure things ran smoothly. After about the second time of me charging up the stairs, I realized that he was watching me.

He was my bosses, bosses, boss, and one of the most important people at that company. He stood at the entrance to the party silently sipping his drink and staring at me. Staring isn’t quite the right word though. Eye fucking me seems more appropriate.

I tried to ignore him as I continued to escort guests up the stairs to the party but he was always there and always watching me. After I brought the last patron up the stairs, I silently rejoiced, knowing the most difficult part of my evening was over. I headed down the stairs to my office ready for some peace. I didn’t realize that he had followed me. 

On my way to my office I realized our staging area was a mess and went into the empty room to clean it. As I began to tidy up, I heard an overly husky deep male voice say, “hey baby, can you bring me upstairs too?” I whipped around expecting to see a drunk patron. Instead I was completely shocked to see him. 

I didn’t know what to do. I figured it was probably just a really bad joke. He was my uber boss, and I didn’t want him to think I wasn’t in on the joke. But I also didn’t want him to think it was okay to call me baby. So I did the only thing I could think of in the three seconds I had to react. I scowled at him. 

Obviously, I should have been more stern with him, but it’s so hard to make decisions like that as it’s happening. 

So I stood there and I scowled at him, hoping he would burst into laughter and tell me it was a joke. Instead he registered that I was unhappy and said, “Aww baby, what’s a matter?” 

He then took two steps closer to me. We were so close he could have kissed me. He looked into my eyes, and then brushed the hair off my face and tucked it behind my ear. When he got it perfectly nestled behind my ear, he slid his hand down my cheek and caressed my face. 

I froze. 

From years of watching Law and Order: SVU, I know this was a completely normal reaction. To this day though, I still feel ashamed. I am a proud and strong feminist who has seen every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and is dying to use the pepper spray on her keychain. Yet when the time came for me to actually stand up for myself, I froze. 

I honestly don’t know what would have happened next, had my walkie talkie not gone off. A minor incident had happened at the event and one of my employees told me I had to go back upstairs and deal with it. We both looked at the walkie for a second, and I used that chance to book it out of the room. I went upstairs, dealt with the problem and then ran back down to my office. I locked the door, sat at my desk and cried. 

I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to say something but I felt like I didn’t have the right to. It wasn’t like he had grabbed my boobs or my ass. He didn’t physically hurt me. It was probably just a bad joke. Yet the pit in my stomach wouldn’t go away no matter how much I reasoned. 

Luckily, one of my good friends was working that night and I called her into my office and told her everything. She told me it was absolutely normal to be feeling the way I was. That he had no right to touch me and that if I wanted to say something I should. It was such a relief to hear another woman say those things. 

Later that night I confided in one more friend who encouraged me to tell my story. He said it was wildly inappropriate for him to speak to me and touch me in that manner, especially as my boss. More importantly though, he said that if I came forward and documented my story, that it could help save other women. He wouldn’t be able to get away with it a second time. 

With new resolve, the next morning I told my boss what had happened, and together we went to HR and told my story. 

I’m telling my story now because it’s sexual assault awareness month and I wanted to say it’s okay to come forward. If someone touches you and it’s unwanted, you can say something. Even if it might be a joke gone bad. Even if you think the touch is too small. Even if he is your boss. Especially if he is your boss.

It’s your body, and no man can touch it without your consent. 

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