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Virginia* 20

Virginia shares her sexual harassment ordeal at her new job as a waitress at a restaurant. She was excited for the opportunity since it was an upgrade from her last job, where she was underpaid and overworked. At her new job, she had flexible working hours and a very understanding boss. What Virginia did not know is that all these came at a price. 

It was nearly the end of three weeks when the manager began groping her body secretly behind the counter. Sometimes he openly commented on her physique before customers. This made Virginia uncomfortable and derailed her job performance.

Sadly, none of her colleagues intervened. “Most days I went home crying, talked to my friends about it and they advised me to leave the place,” Virginia narrates. She decided to stay until the end of the month and quit after she had been paid.  

One day, as she was closing up the restaurant with one of her colleagues, the manager came back to pick something he had ‘forgotten’ in his office. He called out for her to help him search for whatever he was looking for. Virginia was hesitant to go at first. So she hatched a plan with her colleague —she would walk in if Virginia stayed too long. As soon as she entered his office, the manager shoved her against the wall, pressed against her while his hands went up her uniform.

He warned her not to scream and threatened her. Before he could proceed further, the colleague walked in on them and shouted, “Get away from her now!!!” He aggressively released her and they left in a hurry, afraid of what he could do to both of them. They both quit their jobs after that. Virginia felt devastated, traumatised and scared. Fortunately, she got someone to talk to and got help.

Here are tips (5D’s) from L’Oreal’s Paris sexual harassment campaign which you can leverage in a similar scenario:

  • Distract the perpetrator – attempt to divert the attention of the harasser away from the victim to diffuse the situation.
  • Delegate by asking for help – seek assistance from others who can intervene or support the victim.
  • Document the harassment – keep records of incidents, including dates, times, locations, and any evidence, such as messages or witnesses.
  • Direct by speaking up – encourage the victim to assertively communicate their discomfort or disapproval to the harasser.
  • Delay by comforting – offer emotional support and comfort to the victim after the incident.

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