Thursday, April 29, 2010

the victim

It's almost 7am, I got plenty of sleep and I'm getting ready for work at a job I love with people I get along really well with at a place that is both convenient and beautiful. So why don't I want to go to work?

Because I am a victim.

There is a young man at work who has decided I am his friend and is either utterly misreading or thoroughly taking advantage of the fact that I am trapped in a service position and I am a naturally friendly and gregarious person. He has sent me inappropriate materials, he has been attempting to make personal contact with me for about 6 weeks, 2 of which I was on holidays where he would ask other staff where I was, and has been positioning himself in the library to either watch me at the desk or to monitor my comings and goings from the workroom.

The other day he was observed packing up and leaving the library immediately after I went home and it was suspicious enough that I was informed by my colleagues. This is the point that I decided to talk to the manager. She informed the three college managers (including the manager for security) and measures have been taken to make sure I'm safe. I now have my housemate (who has been a gem) picking me up from work, and on the late shift I call security so that they can keep an eye out for the over-enthusiastic guy. I have been offered a security escort to and from my vehicle (the bus)... and most of all: I have become a victim.

I became a victim at the point where I was no longer free to move about during my day without assistance and accountability. I have a series of people who need to be informed when I go home, and I have to report all contact with this guy - even contact made when he is borrowing and returning materials - so that other people may monitor the situation. I have a series of people monitoring my situation. I keep records of all email correspondence from him and I try not to go to the main floor when he is there unless I am working on the front desk. I no longer do desk shifts upstairs alone.

I understand and appreciate that my concerns have been taken seriously and that my safety at work is of such importance - even though I'm leaving in less than 2 weeks to work in another library - and that the administrators of the college would rather put the expense into playing it safe than wait for me to report to being followed home or accosted. I know that I am not being punished, and I know that I am not at fault. But I also know that the reporting of the experiences has meant a lack of freedom and an understanding that I am not able to deal with this issue on my own. In this place and at this time I am powerless to affect my situation and I am no longer solely responsible for my safety.

I think I understand now why, when I was younger and I was more easily taken advantage of, I did not report my co-worker who would make me uncomfortable at work, follow me home and try to grope me. My job was my freedom and my family's sole source of non-government income and I must have known that being a victim would cause me more problems than having a creep for a co-worker.

I understand why I never reported the guy who would send me inappropriate images he had made with my head attached to them demonstrating what he would like to do to (definitely not with) me.

I understand why I never reported the guy who I was dating who forced himself on me without giving me the chance to say no. And who later tried to strangle me when I told him unpleasant truths about the nature of his mental and emotional abuse in the relationship.

I understand why I never made a fuss about the guy who would follow me around work trying to talk to me and make contact with me.

I understand why so many abuses that women go through are not reported and why they will never factor in to the statistics we use to determine how safe women are at work.

These women don't want to be victims.

I honestly don't know how my situation could be dealt with without the punishing of the socially awkward nerd who comes into the library and will do anything to be your friend and who may not realise that he's being inappropriate or that you're simply a nice person and that the connection is all in his head. But I wish there was a way for women to report fear and abuse without having to become victims.

1 comment:

  1. When do you cross the line of becoming a victim? In each of the cases you plotted out, you were a victim. You were a victim of someone else's lust or whims or imbalances. I can understand how having to need protection and being under the eye of others can make you feel weak, undeserving, or annoyed or whathaveyou, but in the case of your safety and for those who have been in similar situations, letting these people get away with what they do, putting up with the harassment, and opening yourself for the harm it has/will cause you won't leave you feeling more empowered, more safe, or more /worthy/ at the end of it. It's an opinion, but I think it's hard to argue about the steps you've taken to ensure your safety, even if it stifles you for a while.