Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

You blamed the wrong person

I had been sexually harassed at work for over 3 years, been groomed by a manipulator who sent me sexually explicit texts and a picture of his erection, he also exposed himself to me and masturbated over the phone and constantly told me how much he wanted me. I told him I was happily married and not interested but he continued his flattery and ego stroking. He was always so sorry when I was shocked at his behaviour and so charming when he wasn't being inappropriate. He promised it wouldn't happen again. He said he loved me and I was his special friend. I didn't want to get him in trouble so I excused his behaviour. I know this sounds stupid but it was drawn out over such a long time and I ignored the warning bells in my head. I was eventually raped by him - at a work event after agreeing to have a wine with him. He then withdrew "the friendship" and left me in an utter state of confusion. He had manipulated me to think his wife was stalking me and was obsessed by me as she thought I was trying to steal her man. I emailed his wife all of his filthy emails and an explanation as to why I did not want her husband and that he had been the one chasing me. I was not even remotely attracted to him. He tried to touch me again a month later so I exploded and punched him. He reported me for harassment and assault. He said we had an affair and I became a bunny boiler after he ended it. I raised a grievance for sexual harassment. My employer believed him and are in the process of disciplining me. The grievance procedure has taken over 8 months and is still not over.
These are the notes I typed last week when again my mind would not allow me to sleep.
Here we go again; I'm up at stupid o'clock with a stomach full of acid and a head of thoughts like a tornado. I can't believe this work investigation has gone on for over 8 months. I feel emotionally drained, but my desire to do the right thing and my need have the truth heard, are too strong to allow me to give up. I'll try some mindfulness techniques and see if I can ground myself back in the moment.

Not actually sure if I want to be in the moment though. I like the safe surroundings of home but unfortunately my thoughts still struggle to find the safety within my head to allow me peaceful sleep.

Of course I know the reason why peaceful sleep is being denied me again; the arrival of the disciplinary notes. - A month for *THE COMPANY to type up notes, which were being typed at the meeting - unbelievable. Or should I say, a month to look over notes, seek some legal perspective and adjust the notes to reflect what they wish was said rather than what was actually said? HR did after all say that "These notes are not meant to be verbatim" I believe that this gives *THE COMPANY poetic licence to record "their" version of what was said and not always a true account of how things were actually said. When I pointed this out to HR in an email and asked her who decided what was relevant enough to be included - she ignored my email. I can clearly give examples in earlier meetings of statements which I was told were mine and I know they are expressions I have never used, some phrases are clearly English expressions, dialect not used in my area in Scotland. When I disputed saying these I was told they would not be removed as I had said them. It makes me wonder why these meetings (or interrogations) were not voice recorded to eliminate any doubt about what was actually said. This of course would also have recorded the sarcastic way I was spoken to and the lack of impartiality in the hearings. It may also have highlighted more clearly the ignorance of *THE COMPANY management and HR staff who have dealt with this case. More worryingly is their lack of true knowledge of sexual harassment and unsurprisingly their unwillingness to educate themselves on grooming and what constitutes a vulnerable person. This is evident in my disciplinary hearing where HR continue to bully me and ask me about being intimate with my colleague. I told them he raped me - What on Earth is intimate about rape?

From the outset of this investigation the culture of "Victim blaming" has been evident and I have been re-victimised throughout the whole process with no concern for the impact their treatment has had on me. Never at any point was it raised that X may have been "Dressed inappropriately". It was pointed out that I had behaved in a comfortable manner around X, therefore they believed that indicated I had consented to the sex. I had also agreed to share a drink with him so this again was confirmation that I had agreed to sex.

At my disciplinary hearing I was grilled again on the emails to his wife being "quite nasty" and "quite unpleasant" - This was the part on my original grievance outcome letter which said I had no case to answer as she did not work for *THE COMPANY and the emails were not sent on work equipment but suddenly it is reintroduced to the disciplinary. When I challenged this I was told;

"It relates to the general harassment of him and his family" Although it was all specifically about harassing her.

The latest is they can't allow me back to work until I have a psychological report and a face to face OH assessment. - More delay tactics until they get rid of the problem and allow X to "retire".

I keep saying I'm exhausted but at least it is coming to an end. However I noticed on their notes that they are suggesting another face to face meeting after the reports are done, so not looking like an end is in sight any time soon. I don't know why they are going through the motions as the reports will not change their outcome and will never undo the damage they have done to me.

I still find it unbelievable that they are disciplining me for harassing him and his family and he has no case to answer for sexually harassing me for over 3 years and repeatedly sexually assaulting me. What on Earth do *THE COMPANY think this has done to my family? My husband is scared to touch me in case I cry or have a flashback. He has had to get over his own feelings that someone "contaminated" his wife and he has watched me fall to pieces and curl up in a ball on the floor sobbing when things get too much and I need a safe place to go. He has watched me cry "out of the blue" because a filthy memory has crept into my head. He watches me wince and get upset every time the word "rape" is mentioned in a conversation or is said on television. He has called NHS 24 to beg for help when my anxiety got so bad I wanted to be committed and sedated to silence all the painful thoughts in my head. He has begged me to eat when I couldn't bear to stomach anything. He has been pushed to limits that most men could not bear. He has been unable to work for weeks as he was scared I would end my life if I were left alone. He has spent months trying to "save me" and rebuild some sort of semblance of the wife he once had. He has watched my children have their lives turned upside down at the thought of what has happened to their mother and he struggles to know that while all this was happening my employer was blaming me for it and excusing the perpetrator. He knows how much loyalty I had for *THE COMPANY and how committed I have been to "doing my job well and projecting an excellent image for the company - a company who have done their best to discredit me and push me over the edge - a company who point the finger at me for sending nasty emails - Seriously - do they not grasp what nasty is? - Destroying someone's life piece by piece, that is nasty. Victim blaming - that is nasty - what X did to me is beyond nasty and yet *THE COMPANY have made him the victim in all this." Our faith in justice has been destroyed. My 24 year old son has had to wrestle handfuls of pills out of my hands when things have gotten so bad. My grown up children have watched my life fall to pieces. They have watched the mother who spent all their lives gaining their respect crumble into an emotional mess. *THE COMPANY have obviously never considered any of this as they see fit to punish me and exclude me as they have a "Duty of Care" towards X. Where was their "Duty of Care" towards me all this time? My emotional state and anxiety during this investigation has been exacerbated by *THE COMPANY's repeated re-victimisation of me, victim blaming and ignoring me, challenging everything I have said and very little of what X has said, even when he clearly had contradicted himself. *THE COMPANY want to punish me for "nasty" emails. Emails which were a cry for help from someone who had been emotionally and physically destroyed by a manipulator who has also managed to manipulate *THE COMPANY. This process has almost killed me and *THE COMPANY say my claims are "unfounded" as X said I wanted it all, despite him admitting I had told him I was not interested and I was "taken aback" when he bought me underwear and gave it to me at work. I was taken aback because I was not having a sexual relationship with him. The only thing I am guilty of is being naive and trusting and believing that X was a good friend.

I am guilty of having faith in human nature and trusting that X was the nice person he manipulated me to believe he was. I am guilty of believing that I was a valued member of "Team *THE COMPANY" - a team who have excluded me, tried to discredit me and bullied me because I dared to raise a sexual harassment grievance. How naive of me to expect them to uphold that inappropriate texts and naked pictures are not acceptable in the workplace or on work equipment? How naive of me to expect my grievance to be upheld when X has admitted exposing himself to me? How naive of me to report him for masturbating on the phone to me and expect *THE COMPANY to actually ask him about that? (For the record - they never even asked him about that, despite me mentioning it several times and it being in My manager's statement).

I despair that there is no justice but it won't stop me fighting to find it. The truth will be heard one way or another.

Now - that has cleared some head space .............. I wonder if I might sleep now?


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3 thoughts on “You blamed the wrong person

  • Lila says:

    This sounds horrific. I dont think your company should handle the case, but I also understand if after this horrible experience you dont want to go to the police. Or have you considered that? Neither what X nor what your company does is legal.

  • Nat says:

    Wow. This is horrific and I am SO so sorry you are being put through this. This looks like a clear case of the company trying to make it very difficult for you to take them go tribunal by lying on their official records. I hope you get some resolution soon and that you can return to some semblance of normality. All the best x

  • MJ says:

    I went to the police – He said it was consensual – they believed him. He has family members in the police and he is a Past Master Freemason. I was questioned for 10 hours without a break, with no support – by torchlight as my house had been on fire. The police called me 7 weeks later to ask for his mobile number to invite him in for a chat. I gave them all his details when I was originally interviewed. They detained him for 2 hours and released him with no charges. I gave them the email from his email address, with his erection photo and they said – prove he sent it. He said it was an affair – I gave the police my old mobile which had a text from him saying how much he wanted me but he realised that I was happily married and out of his reach. The police returned the phone to me uncharged – they hadn’t even charged it to read the messages…………… When I tried to protest I was told “Don’t try to tell me how to do my job” and “You do realise it’s not nice for someone who has never been in trouble with the police to be detained”