Learning to stand up for myself

My boss always used to make sexual comments to me and ask me about my love life which made me really uncomfortable. He would make these comments and jokes in front of my colleagues so I was scared to tell him to stop in case I embarrassed him and he shouted at me. But on the other hand, I was scared to go along with the joke in case my colleagues thought I was also being inappropriate and flirting back. I started avoiding my manager and sometimes wouldn’t come into the office just to avoid him.

A couple of my female colleagues clocked on that my manager was being inappropriate and afterwards would ask if I was okay. They told me that his behaviour was unacceptable. That was really useful because it validated that there was a problem and it wasn’t me overreacting. Their advice was that I go to HR but I didn’t feel comfortable doing that because it felt like I would go behind his back. Instead I wanted to talk to him directly first.

One day, I was talking with another colleague and I explained the situation. I told her I wanted to talk to my manager but I didn’t know what to say. She was so helpful! She told me exactly what to do. She said that I should talk to my manager privately. I should say: “I hope you don’t mind me bringing this up. Your recent behaviours of touching me and talking about my love life make me uncomfortable. I know you have no ill-intentions and you are just being friendly. I trust you and I think you’re a good person which is why I feel able to tell you this directly. As said, I know there is no malicious intent, however, I would be grateful if these actions could stop.”

My manager was super receptive and apologetic. He said he didn’t realise his behaviours had made me feel that way and from then on he stopped touching me or talking about my love life.

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