I Was Sexually Harassed #MeToo

by Jacque Gonzales
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With new stories of sexual harassment coming out each day since the Harvey Weinstein story broke – it’s time to share my story.

I was sexually harassed when I was 18 years old.

It happened over the course of a couple months.  Not many people know about it because:

  1. I was told that no one would believe me.
  2. I was told that I would never work in broadcasting again.
  3. I was told that I would be branded a “troublemaker”.
  4. People close to me put themselves on the line.

I had my own desk at work, however items that I needed to do my job were kept in my managers office.  Those items were kept in his lower desk drawer, where I would have to walk behind the desk and chair to get to the drawer.  The desk was positioned with one side against the wall – and the drawer I needed to access was the one next to the wall.  Slowly, each time that I had to get supplies I would get trapped next to the wall when he would sit in the chair and roll back to block my exit.  He thought it was hysterical.  It was something I didn’t realize was escalating because I loved my job.  Then one day he changed things up and started rolling his chair back to the wall – he wouldn’t move – so I would have to walk in between him and the desk to get by.  Then one day he upped the ante and pulled me down on his lap as I tried to walk by.  He’d laugh every time I was stuck behind that stupid desk – like a game of cat and mouse.

I tried to move the supplies from his desk to mine so I could avoid getting boxed in – he said the supplies needed to stay where they were because he “might need them”.  He was a superior so I didn’t press the issue.

Jokes became innuendo, innuendo became blatant sexual statements coupled with laughter to make them appear as a joke.  It wasn’t only in his office that things would happen.  One morning I was in the front office near the entrance, there were 5 people working there – he came up behind me – and he pulled up my dress in front of everyone.  He laughed like he pulled off some ingenious prank.

A coworker pulled me aside and said that I needed to tell him to stop.  I was relieved that someone else said something – but they wouldn’t help me – I had to do it on my own.

The next week I had to go in to get some supplies from the desk.  He wasn’t in the office, so I went in as fast as I could to get out before he showed up.  Not all of the supplies I needed were in the drawer – some were gone.  Then he walked in the office.

He had the missing supplies in his hands and asked me if that’s what I was looking for.  I said yes, he walked over and handed them to me so I could restock the drawer.  Meanwhile, he sat down in his chair and rolled back towards the wall.  I was cornered again.

And YES, I did ask him to move so I could get by each time – and he’d laugh and tell me to just move on through. This man was incredibly intimidating.  I started getting fearful of how I was going to get it through to him that his behavior was wrong.

So on that particular day, after stocking the drawer, I needed to get past him.  He grabbed my arms and pulled me on to his lap and then wrapped his arms around me.  He was laughing as if he was trying to make me feel more comfortable and relaxed.  I said in a bit of a laugh (remember I was 18) “You need to stop doing this.”  He laughed and acted aloof saying that he didn’t know what I was talking about.  Again I laughed a little as I said “You know, what you’re doing now, this is actually sexual harassment.”.  He immediately stopped laughing.  He looked me directly in the eyes and said that I should never “****” with him because he had the power to make sure I never worked again – and that he’d ruin my life.  He finally let me go – and I bolted out of there.  I remember feeling like my heart was beating out of my chest.  I immediately left the office.  I didn’t hear from him or anyone the rest of the day.

I came back the next morning and he pretended as if nothing happened.  The coworker that had spoken to me about the situation wasn’t there.   I was scared about what I was needed to do.

That afternoon I was called into a different managers office for a disciplinary action for not completing a report for our company public file.  I had completed it the week prior – but it vanished.  I know it was filed properly – I immediately got a sinking feeling.  I was then handed a written warning.  I knew right then that I was going to pay for asking for the harassment to stop.

They were starting to fill my employee file with fabricated issues that I knew nothing about.

But I’ll let you in on something – my favorite subject in high school was LAW.  And I knew what I needed to do – because I WAS NOT going to allow myself to quietly go away when I was not the person who was doing something wrong.

Paperwork was filed.  Lawyers were hired.  Coworkers were interviewed by both council and investigators from the EEOC.  The company I worked for made it abundantly clear that if they found nothing I would be fired.  I still believed that since I was in the right – that I’d be ok.

Some coworkers were fearful about any retaliation – and denied ever seeing anything of concern.  Some brought up that everyone in the office tells jokes and that I laughed at them – so I couldn’t be that upset about a little accidental “brushing” that might have happened.

My attorney had asked if I wanted to sue for damages – and I said “No” – I only wanted to keep my job.  I thought that the company I worked for would be happy to know that I just wanted the right thing to be done and I wasn’t going for money.  That isn’t what happened.

Fast forward…

The company contacted my attorney.  The man was fired – and two others were let go for conspiring to cover up the harassment.

I had stood my ground – and I believed that the truth would be on my side.

I returned to work.  New people were hired to replace the three that were let go.  And I was told again that I would have been fired if the statements I made were not true.  I found it odd that they’d bring this up to me again.  Well, it made sense over the next month as they watched me like a hawk.  The company was waiting for me to do something wrong to try to get rid of me.  I honestly thought that by telling the truth – and the actions that are taken – that we could all be a big happy work family!  Yea, I know – I was completely wrong about that.  I was now branded a “troublemaker” – even though I was the victim.

A series of other events happened after my return to work that made me concerned for my safety, and for the safety of family and friends.  I immediately began looking for another job in another city – in another state – anywhere but there.

One coworker who was friends with all three of the men fired – told me that I would never be able to get another job, that I had no talent and no one would want a troublemaker like me.  I also remember the man who threatened to end my career when I asked him to stop his behavior towards me…so…

Three weeks later I was offered a job in Kansas City, MO.

I heard from the same former coworker that I’d never make it to a major market…

Three years later I moved to Los Angeles to work for one of the most influential radio stations in the country.

I took everything I had been through to push myself and to push past any limitations that others had put on me.  That fear of being labeled a “troublemaker” never happened once I moved away the first time.  I wasn’t “ruined”.  In fact I flourished.  I then started in television – and was told that I’d never make it on National Television.  Well…15 years on National TV squashed those naysayers.

I had successfully stood up for myself using the law that protects someone from unwanted sexual advances.  I am proud of myself for not being fearful – and proud even as a naïve 18 year old – I wanted to fight for what was right.

But please know this…there are many people that will experience sexual harassment at some point and they might not have the ability or support system to seek the justice they deserve.  Or they are dependent on their job to support a family – so they say nothing out of fear.

We can’t be quiet anymore.

There’s strength in numbers.  Speak out.  Support the victims.  Find justice.

Jacque 💜

  • I’d love to stay in touch with you. Look at where it says “Follow Blog Via Email” on this page – and add your email. You’ll be notified when something new is posted! 🙂

 

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35 comments

ZyraKuma October 23, 2017 - 5:55 PM

Thank you for sharing this story. I’m so glad and happy for you that you’re safe while doing the right thing by standing up for yourself and getting the law involved! It makes me disgusted that people like your ex-boss does exist anywhere in the business industry work place. I’m current 18 and I found you very brave and inspiring!

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Mindy Minkin Hall October 15, 2017 - 12:03 PM

I applaud you for your bravery and strength, both as an 18-year-old and now. This is such an important story to share and a far too common one. I feel certain that your voice will help others in similar situations. 💛

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Ursula October 15, 2017 - 3:38 AM

That is horrible, Jacque. You are a very strong person and should be very proud of yourself and how you rose above it.

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Elaine Tuhy October 14, 2017 - 10:18 AM

Jacque, where are you now? You are brave !

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Nancy October 14, 2017 - 1:11 AM

Jacque, You were VERY brave to stand your ground and do the right thing, especially for an 18 year old. Many “adult” women should be that brave!
I wonder if THAT creep ever saw you on National TV and see how successful you became.
I hope someone reading this story finds strength from your courage and do the right thing if being sexually harassed or bullied!
Sincerely,
Nancy

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Delores Scholin Swanson October 13, 2017 - 9:23 PM

I am so sorry to hear about what happened to you. You are such a brave and wonderful soul to write your story. My thoughts and prayers go out to you. You certainly are a survivor. God will Bless you.

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Ginny October 13, 2017 - 8:49 PM

Congratulations on your success. You are an awesome person!!

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Cheri October 13, 2017 - 5:30 PM

WOW, you were and are a brave young lady! I am so proud to know you!

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Ann Marie Kleiss October 13, 2017 - 5:26 PM

OMG Jacque. I am sorry that happened to you but proud you fought back and achieved what you wanted. You are a strong woman. I hope you bring your daughter up to be a strong woman. Jacque, I loved watching you and hearing about your family.

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Nancy October 13, 2017 - 4:56 PM

Thanks for sharing..God bless you!

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Marianne Lamberts October 13, 2017 - 4:33 PM

Jacque, I know how hard this has been for you, and I commend you for speaking out. I would hope that because you have spoken out it will help you in your life going forward. It takes courage to speak out for something that was totally inappropriate to say the least. I hope that that person got his comeuppance and more!

Hugs,
Marianne

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Mona October 13, 2017 - 4:31 PM

I too was sexually harassed. But i wasnt as strong as you. I was 26. I was the manager of my building. I was pregnant with my daughter. My boss said he would love to film me giving birth. I laughed it off. A couple months later a bunch of us managers were at a conference. Most were going to the bar and invited me to go. I declined since that just isnt my thing. My boss said some others were going to play poker and invited me. He said if i went he would turn it into strip poker; I again declined. Fast forward a couple months and i was about to get married. The week before he told me i could still back out and he would be there for me. I told him i was sure and had no doubts. A month later i was fired for not coming in on my day off to do work that wasnt needed. Wish i would spoke up the first time.

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Antonio October 13, 2017 - 3:41 PM

Thank you for sharing your story. It’s heartbreaking to think women all around the world are being sexual harassed and the men in power positions abuse their power to do such things. As I man, I deeply apologize to those who were harassed. To the women that have shared their stories, thank you for being brave and sharing a traumatic experience. To those who haven’t for what ever reason, the more light that is shone on this, the more these sexual predators can be exposed. Fear is a powerful thing, but don’t give in to that fear. You’re much more powerful than that.

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Carol October 13, 2017 - 3:38 PM

I love your honesty! This story was difficult to tell. God Bless You!

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Donna Maddaloni October 13, 2017 - 1:16 PM

Thank you for telling your story. I also had an a incident at work. I’m an R.N., while I was was in college I worked weekends as an L.P.N. doing home care, I was 19. It started out with my patient’s husband bumping up against me, this continued for a couple of weeks, at first I didn’t think anything about it, but one weekend I was in the kitchen getting my patient’s medication, the husband’s bedroom was right next to the kitchen, he opened the door and he was naked with an erection before I could move he grabbed me and held my hands behind my back while he tried to unbutton my uniform, I screamed and he let go of me, I was so scared, i called the agency and told them what happened and that I was leaving. I cried as I was driving home, I never expected anything like this, I had been doing home care for a couple of years and never had anything like this happen. I never went back to doing home care after that. It’s so important for women to speak out. Thank you for telling your story

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b reed October 13, 2017 - 1:11 PM

My dear Jacque, that is very brave and strong of you to share this. victims are afraid to come forward. i am proud of you for your strength. so many dont have that strength. this story and the others making headlines today may help victims come forward. love ya girl and i appreciate that you shared this. it helps others and it helps you. <3

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Anna October 13, 2017 - 1:00 PM

It took a lot of courage for an 18 year old. Congrats!

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Rebecca Koenig October 13, 2017 - 12:36 PM

So proud of you! You amaze Me! What a wonderful, brave and special woman

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mindy krupka October 13, 2017 - 12:09 PM

I am glad you stood your ground and continued to work-even though elsewhere.

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Sylvia Beem October 13, 2017 - 12:06 PM

I believe most women and some men have at one time or another been sexually harassed. It’s time for it to STOP!

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Jane Twitchell October 13, 2017 - 11:24 AM

At 18 i was a freshman in college. I had a work-study job doing office work for the school “jock , coach, phys ed guru.’ He was known as KVK. I was at the desk typing. Suddenly, both of his arms were resting 0n the desk, trapping me there, I was so scared, my heart was pounding like a hammer. I pushed the chair (on wheels) back as hard and fast as I could and hit him right where I wanted to. I ran out of the office and never went back to that work study job. I never told a soul because it was 1962!! He kept going around campus, shouting my name and asking when I was coming back to work. I hid. I never went back.
In addition, in 1976, I had two young boys and was applying for a job. Everything was going fine, the interviewer ( a BIG DEAL in the local school system) started questioning me about my family and told me he thought he could not consider me because I had young children and he could not depend on me. I left. I never complained, remember, 1976. I found out later that a friend of mine had the same experience. some things have come a long way, baby!! Speak up, shout out, don’t take it!

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Vicky October 13, 2017 - 11:03 AM

You go lady.. never ever accept the unacceptable!!

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Linda October 13, 2017 - 10:57 AM

Thank You for sharing your story, I pray this will encourage others to take action and report sexual harassment against them. You are a very brave lady !

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Edie Lara Greges October 13, 2017 - 10:56 AM

Love you Jacque. You are a wise and brave woman.

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Cheryl Smith October 13, 2017 - 10:49 AM

Thank you for telling your story, bless you.

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Shirley A Fisher October 13, 2017 - 10:41 AM

Jacque,
Thank You for sharing this! I know it must have been hard! To relive this. But wow look how far you came! More women need to speak up!! When this happens!! Many Blessings Jacque!!

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Denise Gamble O'Reilly October 13, 2017 - 10:37 AM

Thank you for sharing your story. It took a great deal of courage to stand up for your rights.

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Mary October 13, 2017 - 10:35 AM

Thankyou for sharing your story with us. Sexual Harassment is real!! It happens everyday and it needs to stop!! I’m a survivor of Sexual assault and feel punishment for such crimes are too lenient.. ❤️🙏🏻

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Sue October 13, 2017 - 10:27 AM

I love you and this!!

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Mary Anne Macartney October 13, 2017 - 10:12 AM

Thank you for sharing your experience. You have helped so many women who will benefit from your determination and hard work. I am proud of you.

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Patricia Lambert October 13, 2017 - 10:10 AM

I too was sexually harrassed my first job in 1974. I was not quite 18 and got a job as a janitor at a local middle school. The principal would ask me if I had on a new bra. Make remarks about my body. But in 1974 no one cared about sexual harrassment. He was influential in the community and who was I to complain. He would say demeaning things to female teachers also. One teacher was in the hall after the bell rang and he came by telling her to get her fat a– in her room. I was sweeping the hall when I overheard this. So I knew if a female teacher would be treated that way I had no hope. I eventually quit my job after five agonizing years. And have not experienced sexual harrassment like that since. But I was very young, needed the job badly and knew at that time no one would believe me. Thank God things are changing and women are speaking out. Thanks for your story.

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Linda Leavy October 13, 2017 - 10:09 AM

Jacque I applaud your strength and determination. I am so sorry that you had to go through this horrible experience. It made me sick to read not only what your supervisor did to you but how your co workers treated you. God bless you for sharing your experience.

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Darlene Rose October 13, 2017 - 10:03 AM

You were brave for an 18 yr old! Good for you!

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Devonnee Villegas October 13, 2017 - 10:00 AM

Thank you for sharing, Jacque. I had two instances at work years ago. One guy decided to put his had down my shirt. Immediately went to my supervisor & his. He was disciplined, stayed are from me, and eventually left the company.
The 2nd was with a supervisor I greatly admired. Mostly innuendo, but I was made extremely uncomfortable. I went to HR. He never realised what he had done and apologized. We resumed a professional work relationship. When he passed away from cancer, 10 years ago I was saddened.

Devonnee Villegas

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Beverly October 13, 2017 - 9:57 AM

You were a brave girl. I found the harassment stopped once I used the word. These men think they have the right and women need to prove them wrong!

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