Sexual Harassment-Circa 1977

Bill O’Reilly’s exit from Fox has me thinking of sexual harassment in the workplace and how it has not changed in the last forty decades. Except for money. I have to think that the almighty dollar bill has something to do with people coming forward to talk about their experiences with high-profile people and their discomfort with what they say has been said to them. Forgive me if I sound disgruntled, or jealous, because I’m not at all. I admire Wendy Walsh for not asking for money and simply telling her story. That’s what this should be all about.

This is about sexual harassment and how it makes a woman feel. It is about disempowering a woman, about taking your stature, your power in the workplace and using it against an employee. It is about using your lack of morals and grinding them against who you suppose might be vulnerable and might not fight back. That’s the key. It’s a sickness that the perpetrator cannot stop. They calculatedly pick people who they think might not turn around and tell them they’re dicks and go back to Human Resources or whomever is at the head of the office. It just takes one person to speak up. In Bill O’Reilly’s case it only took one until the cup spilled over and then the story broke. Fox News had been paying how many women to keep their stories quiet. But this type of sexual harassment has been going on forever and women have not been talking about it. I did. Back in 1977. Here’s my story.

I was fresh out of college and had acquired a temp job at Dutch Boy Paints. The same day I was hired, my boss asked me if I wanted to go full-time and not permanent.  How lucky, I thought. First day in on a new job and I was being hired full-time. Little did I know of the harassment to come.

Next to my desk was another man who I’ll always remember as a gentleman. He was a few years older than I, and he came to be my protector. I have no idea why, but he took it upon himself to keep my boss away from me. He was the liason of sorts between that boss, myself and I. It was a strange situation that the boss had no idea his underling was trying to stop.

My boss was married. That didn’t stop him from inviting me out to lunch on a daily basis. I would bring in my own lunch as an excuse, but since everyone went out to lunch, I didn’t like being alone in the building. K (the protector) always went to lunch with him. They would take long lunches at fancy restaurants and clubs. K would tell me how during the lunches the boss would talk about me. He didn’t like it as much as I didn’t. I had only been married about 6 months at the time.

On occasion, when K would invite me to lunch, I would go. The boss would interject himself along, but I would pay my own way. I would be careful not to sit next to him. K would always watch him. The boss would drink heavily during his lunches too, which would antagonize him to harass me more. I always stood my ground. I threatened to tell his wife when she called. He would threaten to fire me. I would say I would go to HR with this conversation. I was 22 years old on my first job that I knew I was not going to stay in.

At times, the boss would go to a bar across the street from the plant and extend his lunch/drinking hours. He would call my line and beg me to come to the bar. Since I had to answer my phone at the office, I would have no idea it was him. I would hang up once I knew it was him on the line, drunk and his tirades. K called one time. He told me to pack my things and go home. He said the boss was that drunk and didn’t want to tell me what he was saying, but that it wasn’t good. He said for my safety I needed to get out of there Now, and before anything happened, and he could only contain him for so long. He begged me to leave. I listened carefully to what he wasn’t telling me and I knew. I picked up my things and left before anything could happen. To this day, I always thank K for being a Protector. For knowing what was wrong.

But that wasn’t the only harassment going on at Dutch Boy Paints. As I said, I was young. I didn’t dress provocatively. As a matter of fact, I wore suits most of the time. I hated dresses. It was a plant with offices and at times, I had to go down to the industrial part, so suits were the better option.

I was delivering copy to another office one day, when a particular executive passed by me. As he did, he brushed up against me, and grabbed my derriere.  That’s the politest way to say it. Then he quickly walked away. I was stunned. What? I thought. This man just grabbed my body. Ok, I’m pissed. I wasn’t sure who he was, but if I ever saw this dude again, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but not smile, keep away, and certainly say something.

Sure enough, next time I see him, he manages to grab me again and disappear quickly. The executive does it again. Now I am Seething. I go to another woman in the office that I know who does payroll and ask her who he is to get a name. She tells me. So now I have his name and what position he holds. I have the dates he harassed me physically. I’m thinking what to do with this information. It’s 1977. Men could care less back then and women’s attitudes …. well, if you were a feminist back then you were considered a radical. I think I was always a feminist since the day I was born. I was not going to be a pincushion for this man’s hands.

Sure enough, the third time he sees me, he gropes me. And I turn to him, blocking his way, and I tell him, that’s sexual harassment, and I’m reporting you. He laughs. And walks away. Which drove my anger and determination more. I immediately went to the office of the General Manager of Dutch Boy Paints and made an appointment for the next day.

I had all of my dates ready when I went in to talk to him. I calmly explained to the GM when and how this executive sexually harassed me. I told him the workplace was not a place for this type of behavior. I told him that I was not going to stand for this. My body was my own. The GM leaned back in his leather chair, wrapped his arms around his head, smiled at me and said, “Do you really want to ruin this guy’s career? He’s a nice guy. He didn’t mean any harm. He was just being friendly. Besides, he has kids.” I’ll never forget those words and the condescending tone of the GM that day.

I looked at him levelly and with a very cold voice, I said. “He should be thinking about his own career before he places his hands on a woman in the workplace. He is a sick man who cannot keep his hands to himself. Either you bring him in here, you dictate the law to him and slap penalties on him or I will hire an attorney. The choice is yours.”  The smile left his face quite quickly and his chair snapped back into sitting position. “You’re serious?” he said. “I am.” I responded.  “I won’t wait for days, either. Today.”

The executive was suspended for 30 days from the workplace. So I was told. I did ask for proof, which I received. I also asked for a letter of apology, also received.  I also knew that my boss would get wind from this story. And that it would have an immediate impact on him. I thought that I would be able to kill two birds with one stone. Basically, I did. He started ignoring me and office life settled down. I’m sure the few other women in that plant were harassed but no one had ever stood up. It just takes one.

Be That Voice. Find your inner strength and stand up for yourself. No means no.  Never allow yourself to be a victim of someone else. The law for sexual harassment has been in place since 1964. Use it. Do not allow predators to circumvent the law and use you for their pleasure.

If you or anyone you know is a victim of sexual harassment, you may find this document helpful: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/fs-sex.cfm.

Peace.

Sorceress.

All works past, present and future are protected under a CCC. Creative Common License, Kaarie Blake Musings by Kaarie Blake is licensed under a Creative Common Attribution-Noncommercial-Noderivs-3.0-Unported License.

Survival Of A Psychopath(With Borderline Tendencies…Should I Have Allowed Him To Die?)

For The Suicide Attempt...

For The Suicide Attempt…

How many people’s lives have I ruined for the future? By allowing Daniel to survive his suicide attempts, all of his attempts, by keeping this psychopath alive, have I ruined other people’s lives as well as mine? Have I destroyed their feelings of well-being and inner peace as well by allowing Daniel to touch them? Should I have let him die is a question I ponder over and over in my mind relentlessly.

Daniel is a sick man. Psychiatrically ill. That is a given. Psychiatrists have proclaimed him ill. Not one. Not two. But many. Law enforcement constantly has run-ins with him. From the age of about seven until the present. School personnel notified his parents constantly that he needed help. Local boys club volunteers that worked with him that later spoke to me told me they knew he was wracked with problems, and that the boy needed counseling.  All in vain.

All of this knowledge that I tell you now is in hindsight. I have had a lot of time to recollect. I have had time to reference my journals. Many have spoken to me about him, beginning with his mother, Sandra. The stories she would tell me about him and laugh about his childhood were horrendous at the least, horrific at the most.

As I have written this Blog and speaking with the readers, some have thought that the posts I am writing are fictitious. They are not. All that I write is real. Not one word do I  create in my mind. All that I write about has happened to me and is factual. That is one point that I must make clear before I write any further. I want to clear that for my readers so that they understand why I am writing this particular post. I sit here tonight wondering as I was being hurt so badly back then, as I watched him attempt to kill himself over thirteen times, why didn’t I stop the pain then? His pain, my pain, the pain of all those involved with this man.

If I had been his nurturer, I should have stopped his inner pain. I should have allowed him to commit suicide. I should have allowed him to die. If he had, he wouldn’t have had his demons anymore. If he had died, his demons wouldn’t torment him. If his demons didn’t torment him, then they wouldn’t create his racing thoughts. If Daniel’s racing thoughts weren’t creating a thought-crazed man who talked of delusional ideas, then my pain could have been cut short. Sounds so simple.

But isn’t that talking as if I wasn’t the wronged one? As if I should have been helping him? That’s how the typical abused personality thinks. That’s how the abused personality begins to think. It’s how it’s brainwashed. The emotions become so manipulated that the person begins to think they should be helping the abuser. No matter how illogical it seems to anyone else, the abused will think they maybe they could have done something to make their life all right.

Which brings me back to my original statement. Perhaps if I had allowed Daniel to outright kill himself, then maybe I would have helped myself to make my life alright. Those words may take the reader a few moments to digest. You may think about them now and tonight and tomorrow. Those words are very strong.  And in one instant of time, they were actually said to me by his mother.

Early one evening, about 7 p.m., Daniel had shown me  two bottles of his psychiatric medicines. Full bottles, he was talking about how the pills made him feel. The two medicines were strong antipsychotics. Very calmly, and very quickly, he opened the bottles and swallowed the entire contents of both. Just like that. As if he was eating a bag of candy. No water to ease the pills down. He just swallowed them. Then he went and sat down on the living room sofa.

As I’ve talked about in earlier posts, his suicide attempts were becoming more and more commonplace. After over 13 attempts, I had stopped counting. I grabbed the house phone to call 911. Just as I did, the front door opened, and his mother walked in. She saw him sitting on the living room sofa, starting to slide off to the side. She saw the bottles, one in his hand yet, and the other at his side. She knew what had happened instinctively. She had been through this before, also.

She walked over to me, took the phone out of my hand, and said, “Let’s go out, dear.” She looked me directly in the eyes and said, “When we return home, maybe if we’re lucky, he’ll be dead. We can be at peace. What would you like to do? Go shopping? I’ll buy you anything you want.”

I’ll never forget that moment as long as I live. I thought this woman had lost her mind. This was her son. Her only son. Her only child left that was talking to her. Her daughter, Susan,  no longer wanted anything to do with her. How could a mother see her son attempt suicide and want to go shopping? My mind, flooded with repulsive thoughts at this woman, just stared.

“You say you believe in your God? You say you go to church every Sunday and you are a good woman?” I countered. “How in your god’s name can you say that? Your son needs help. I can’t leave him here wondering if he is going to die and go shopping with you.” I was trying to grab the phone back from her, but she was holding it back from me.

“He’s troubled. Let him die. We’ll go for a few hours. No one will know the difference. We’ll say we found him when we get back.” Sandra told me.

“Absolutely not,” I said, grabbing the phone from her hand. “Your god may allow you to do this, but my goddesses do not give me this option to leave him here to die. I need to call 911.” And with that I placed the call that was becoming second nature to me. The call that I knew would give me peace.

It would give me peace because Daniel would go into the mental ward again. He would be institutionalized for a minimum of 72 hours. And I would be free of him for three days, at least. Three days of freedom. If only I had three days of freedom from his mother, also. But that was not to be.

I did manage to grab the phone from her and call 911. Again. Tell them Daniel had attempted suicide. Wait for the ambulance. Give them the information and bottles. Decide if I was going to the emergency room. His stomach would be pumped. A social worker would be called. I would be questioned if he needed observation. If I didn’t go, he would manipulate the staff into giving him the phone to call me at home. Suicide attempts are a cry for help some say. Or are they?

As to my original question, have I done a disservice to this world by allowing him to live? I don’t know. I don’t know who else he might have hurt along the way. I do know that I haven’t ruined my life. And neither Daniel nor his mother ruined my life fully. I’ve only become stronger. I’m that survivor. A survivor with pain. Aren’t we all in some way?

Peace.

Sorceress

All works past, present and future are protected under a CCC. Creative Common License, Kaarie Blake Musings by Kaarie Blake is licensed under a Creative Common Attribution-Noncommercial-Noderivs-3.0-Unported License

 

Survival Of A Psychopath…(With Borderline Tendencies…)…The Frame

A Memory Of What Used To Be

A Memory Of What Used To Be

I was passing through a department store the other day and saw a display of frames. One of them reminded me of a special frame my daughter had given me as a Russian Christmas gift many years ago. It was a silver frame  inscribed with certain words that my older brother used to call me when I was a baby. She had told me when she saw it in the store, she quickly bought it, knowing it was the perfect gift for me. Of course, she put a picture of my deceased brother and I in the frame.

As I saw frames similar to it in the store, that vision came racing back to me. Time stopped right then as I was walking. I heard nothing around me. I didn’t see any people. My eyes didn’t see the frames any longer either. Suddenly, I was thinking back to the last time I had seen that frame, with the picture of my brother in it. I was trying to remember what picture she had put in it. I couldn’t remember.

I quickly removed myself from that aisle, and from that department. I felt so displaced at that moment. My head was spinning. This was ridiculous. No, this wasn’t ridiculous. All over a frame? Why should I get so upset? This gift was from maybe 14 years ago.

I remember when she gave it to me I started crying. She looked at me in horror. “No, you’re supposed to be happy…” she said. “I am”, I replied to her. “These are happy tears, wherever did you find something like this?” She should have known better than to give her sentimental mother such a gift. I cry when Lassie lifts her paw. (Although we all know Lassie is a boy….)

The frame…the frame. So my mind is spinning and I kept thinking about the frame. Because…because…because the frame is gone. I had blocked the thought from my mind. Just another piece of black-heartedness of Daniel and his mother and what they have done to me. Something else they have taken from my life. Something they have stolen from my memory. Except this time, they stole from my heart, and I can never replace it.

You might wonder why I am fixating on one picture in a silver frame with some simple words inscribed on it. When I was born, my brother called me a nickname consisting of four words. They were rather silly for a four-and-a-half-year-old boy to create for his new baby sister, but he did. Eventually those four words  shortened to one. And that one name is what my entire family called me for my entire life.  To find that phrase inscribed on a frame was almost impossible. But my daughter did. When she put my deceased brothers picture inside the frame it became an heirloom.

The day she handed it to me and I opened up the wrapped gift, I cried. Horrified,with huge round eyes, she cried,  “”No,no.”, she was saying, “You’re not supposed to cry”, she was distraught, not understanding why I seemed so upset. “It’s ok, the tears are tears of happiness.” I was trying to tell her. How impossible to find such a gift, such a gift of meaning.

When I purchased the Chelsea home,I moved all that  I owned  into the old house. I happily decorated it with many of my cherished memories. This house was perfect. Built in 1846, still having so many of the original parts, its former owner keeping it lovingly restored, the house seemed to want a family that wanted to display loving items, family items.

Many pictures of my family were hung up. Pictures of my father from the 1920’s. Old wedding pictures of my family with women in beautiful flowing wedding gowns people don’t wear today. Pictures of my children when they were younger, doing silly things, as kids do. Daniel put pictures up of his Grandfather Shook, a man he said he revered. A man he said was good to him. Sandra kept giving him portraits of herself to display in the home, too. Behind her back, he would destroy them violently. Sometimes burning them, spitting on them, ripping them to shreds.

He could stand a picture of his father, Lester, on the walls. Yet when he would ask Sandra for one, she would hem and haw about it, saying she would have to find one. It took her weeks and weeks to try to come up with one for him. Finally, he just took one off of the wall of her home. She wouldn’t argue with him about it. She just let him take it. She knew she had played a game. She knew that if he didn’t have a picture of her on the walls of his house, she wouldn’t want a picture of her dead husband on the same walls. She couldn’t understand why he might want a picture of his father.

The fact that the men in his family might have meant something to him mattered nothing to her. After all, this woman is histrionic and narcissistic. For her, the world is her showplace. To her, her picture was the main picture you should see when you walk into the home her son lives in. The fact that he refused to display one was a topic she would not discuss.

Daniel had his issues with his father. Lester was always trying to make his son do better and strive for better goals. He saw how his wife, the mother of his son, treated Daniel. It sickened him. He didn’t want Daniel to stay in the gutters. He didn’t want Daniel to stay rock bottom where he had hit so many times. He saw that’s where Sandra was keeping him, only to rescue him, and throw him back again. Lester saw what was going on in his household, but was helpless in how to change the dynamics.

Along with all these family pictures of mine, my old family treasures that graced the walls, was the gift of my brother’s picture. Only I couldn’t put it on the wall or on a table. Seeing it hurt too much. My brother was my Protector. He had been my Protector for me when I was a child, and as I grew up, he was always there for me. We stayed very close, through our marriages, brother and sister sharing our thoughts and our memories to the end.

His picture stayed in an old antique buffet in my dining room. When the house had been condemned, when Daniel and his mother Sandra had destroyed the house to unlivable human standards, and I, forced to sell the property for the land, left. I didn’t receive a dime for the sale. The sale, done secretly by the city, Daniel and his best friend Michael who was the neighbor that purchased the house on Chelsea Avenue. Daniel received the money. Bills were to be paid off. I didn’t receive a settlement sheet. Everything that I owned in that house had been bagged up, put in  a truck and hauled off to an unknown destination. They  told me all was put in a landfill. I lost everything. Everything.

Let me repeat that to make myself absolutely clear. Before the settlement occurred, these people, Daniel,Michael,Sandra and their helpers cleaned out my home. They took everything inside of it that belonged to me and made sure I would never see it again. It was as if the house had burned down and everything in it was gone. That one picture in that frame I have described was gone. That silly little frame that started this story is gone. Along with an accumulation of 50 some years of my life. Gone forever. Never seen again.

Yes, I am a Survivor. But it hurts like hell. It hurts worse than hell. I walked away with the clothes on my back and my vehicle. I cry more often than not. I hurt more than I ever thought possible. I don’t think I will ever get over this tragedy. The City Police Department would not help me. Their pockets were always lined. There was nothing I could do but walk away. But it still wasn’t the end.

There was so much more between and to become. A never-ending battle. In the meantime, I won’t find myself walking through those department store aisles for awhile again. It’s those triggers. You never know then they’ll come back to haunt you.

Peace.

Sorceress