Originally published Tuesday, 17 September 2013.
Two things happened recently that have caused me to write this blog immediately.
The first is that Mayor Filner of San Diego is resigning as of 5 PM on August 30th. The second is that I ate at the restaurant Karl Strauss for the first time since I was sexually harassed in their parking lot many years ago by a former coworker. I am infuriated that men like Mayor Bob Filner think it's okay and appropriate behavior to sexually harass women in the work place.
As a woman who has been sexually harassed in the work place twice, I am not only offended--I am downright angry.
Some of you may have read my story about the day that I said no and my coworker didn't stop. It upsets me that I was the one who got in trouble, and not him, when I asked for help the next day at work. But most of you don't know the other story. A story that I lived in fear to tell publicly for so long. It makes me angry that victims are treated as the perpetrator and not the other way around. I know what it feels like to think and even believe the work place rewards men and their inappropriate behavior instead of the victim. When I reached out after the first incident, I was told I would get in trouble for speaking up again, and that is why it took me SO long to speak up the second time. Each time I felt helpless. Scared. Instead of going into further details--I want to focus on this one thing: God used both of these terrifying seasons in my life to spur me forward into writing. It's always been about writing and sharing my story. And because I listened--I am now the author of 4 books. Don't. Miss. This. My. Friends.
I truly believe, if you are feeling like a victim of sexual harassment that God might have bigger plans.
Satan might feel threatened that God is on the cusp of something GREATER in your life--and that is why you're in the middle of a situation that actually has NOTHING to do with you! Maybe you're afraid. Maybe like me--you suffer with anxiety or depression, which made each situation MUCH worse.
I want to let you know that it's okay to feel scared.
The first time, I ended up having the courage to drag my 80 pound keyboard to the second floor, and play and sing worship songs at my "non" Christian job. Songs like "He's got the Whole World in His Hands." In the middle of that song the power went out and all I could think about was that God's presence was in that room. There was no denying it. (It wasn't until years later that I reconnected with a former coworker who thanked me for playing that day. Who never forgot my faith. Faith? Me? I thought I was the one drowning. The one not following God close enough--otherwise, why would HE LET THESE THINGS HAPPEN TO ME?). The second time, I ended up in the Emergency Room and was put on disability for anxiety because I honestly couldn't deal with it anymore, and didn't know who to trust or who to talk to. I honestly thought my life, career, and writing ministry were o-v-e-r. BUT. BUT.
It was never about sexual harassment. That was all just a giant DISTRACTION. That is also why I don't hold anything against anyone.
We're all human. We sin. We hurt each other. I say that now after years of anxiety medication, therapy, and lots of prayer. AND why I have faith that God can get you out of sexual harassment--or worse.
I want you to know that sexual harassment is a BIG deal whether you're a Christian or not.
It's just not okay. Even after writing a book on FORGIVENESS, this is a topic that I still struggle with because both of these men never apologized. They never got caught. They never said they were sorry--even when I apologized (hoping they'd apologize). To Filner, who said today in a press conference that he has never sexually harassed any woman--I'd like to say "join the club." You and every other male who has denied--and will continue to deny claims of sexual harassment exist everywhere. I know because I've met a few of them. You may not get caught this side of heaven, but you will eventually--and that is what helps me sleep at night!
I will not apologize for feeling so strongly about believing why sexual harassment at work is wrong because it happened to me.
BUT. It forever set the course of my life into new paths that have gotten me to where I am today! I may have been naive back then, but I am certainly not naive anymore. To the women who have not yet lost their innocence, may God continue to protect you and keep you safe! No one deserves to be sexually harassed whether at work, church, home, family, or elsewhere. No one. Ever.
This blog represents one of many reasons why I am looking forward to addressing the subject of mental health on the blog next month.
There is always hope. Even when you don't believe it--or see it. God is there, and in His arms are faith, hope, and love! [Photo: errantfool, Flickr]