What happened in the year after the trial
Back in time
It has been one year, ok one year and three days to be precise, that I heard from the Lawyer on the 24th of March 2014 that we’d won the lawsuit against Sir and so my contract would be ended at the 1st of April 2014.
The judge describes in the verdict that the smoke screen, which Sir tried to erect, didn’t succeed. These facts mentioned didn’t have anything to do with his acts of harassment. Nevertheless, non-verbal and verbal sexual harassment can’t be punished as a crime in the Netherlands since it isn’t included in the criminal law. The raised finger of the judge in the warning towards Sir and the financial penalty concerning the refusal of having my complaint of sexual harassment investigated is the only recognition I received despite the enormous amount of evidence provided. Evidence, such as text messages, emails and a whopping four witness statements.
What happened afterwards
How do you pick up the thread after being sexual harassed for over two years by your employer and the verdict doesn’t give you sufficient recognition. Who shows you how to handle questions and remarks filled with incomprehension. Suddenly everybody seems to know what you should do. The conversations are often about how I should have reacted, but rarely about the fact that the perpetrator should never had been allowed to do this.
This is one of the reasons why I started this blog. If you want to understand victims of sexual harassment, it is important to show the complete process of sexual harassment so the perpetrators of this power crime in the workplace are revealed. Sexual harassment is surely not about sex, but about power and control. The blog was for me the way to explain to people in my surroundings how this could have happened to me, a woman who worked in the advertisement business for over twenty years. So it can happen to anyone, also powerful and lively people in the strength of their lifes. Spitting on Hans’ tosti was read more often and it was frequently shared, that’s why I received a lot of feedback from people I didn’t know, who recognized themselves in my story and the process of harassment. Men and women who were glad somebody called attention to the process, but also to the traumatic experience which sexual harassment in the workplace is. These people shared their personal experience with me, some say it’s naive, but I was pretty shocked after reading these messages. Are there so many people who are being bullied away from the office without someone interfering, do we live in a country that is being managed by an ostrich policy. I was perplexed.
From blog to book
In the messages I received from fellow sufferers I was mainly asked to keep sharing my experience. Informing helps to make the taboo on (sexual) harassment in the workplace negotiable and to give victims the strength needed to break the downward spiral. Because informing is also a form of prevention. But how do I reach as many people as possible, by transforming the blog into a book? Meanwhile a publisher had approached me because of my blog. About six months after the trial I cut myself off from the rest of the world to relive my trauma to be able to rewrite the blog into twenty-seven tosti-chapters. On the 18th of September 2014 I receive the first copy of ‘Spugen op de tosti van Hans’, now I can hold more than two years of suffering in one hand.
Contact with the media
The Dutch media also noticed the blog and a talk show on national television wanted to have the scoop of my book. To my surprise the producers of this talk show suddenly cancelled the agreement because the publisher and the verdict weren’t spectacular enough for the show. Being completely flabbergasted, a feeling of panic liberated inside of me, again I was confronted with injustice, no recognition, but only the confirmation that in our society being destroyed in the workplace is unimportant. Overwhelmed by emotions and still wobbly of rewriting and reliving the blog, I tried to convince the producers with this point of view, but it was too late.
With the book being the occasion, I contacted several national
newspapers and magazines. And it makes me happy when journalists, TV and
radio programs do want to give sexual harassment in the workplace a
face. I’ve written an endless amount of emails, also to the national TV
station that realized that harassing employees in the workplace is a
growing problem. It doesn’t concern an individual problem here, but
something that concerns all of us. How save is the workplace for real?
Together with the TV host Sander de Kramer I tell my story on the 16th of January 2015 in the documentary de Wandeling (The Stroll), it is a stroll that means a lot to me and on which I’ve received many valuable response. Unfortunately I can’t keep in touch with everybody, but we now know and realize even better that we’re not alone. During de Wandeling it came up that on Sir’s website the company Victim Support is in the portfolio. It is difficult to believe this is really happening. De Wandeling was broadcasted on the 2nd of February 2015.
The book serves its purpose and many people, also rescuers, use my book as an instruction manual to help understand the process and the cast with (sexual) intimidation in the workplace. My book settles with the imposed shame and disgrace, it inspires people to share their stories with others. Bringing out sexual harassment, in which I was trapped, gave me the strength to convert the blog and book into the workshop / lecture: Sexual harassment in the workplace. The fact that I broke the taboo and the dangerous isolation in which the victims stay, brought me to this lecture I gave at the University of Aruba on the 17th of January 2015. Also in Aruba, sharing my story of sexual harassment in the workplace, inspired many women and rescuers to share their personal stories. Back in Holland I was invited by the Female Labor Union to give my lecture on the International Women’s Day in Amsterdam. It feels good when you can bend a traumatic experience to positive energy, which is used to reach people and to make a difference. A difference, which makes it easier for victims and bystanders to bend a situation like sexual harassment, or inspire to look for help. A difference, which makes it harder for harassers to cowardly assert their use of power.
Suddenly a whole year has gone by and you look back, every emotion I’ve experienced over the last three years is still reachable. I know that and I acknowledge the emotion. Incomprehension, anger, pain, sadness and loneliness still have the exclusive in my heart.
At the moment that I look at Sir’s website a year later, and indeed notice that Victim Support is in the portfolio of his company, this creates room for the vileness. Sir continues his vicious acts without embarrassment and with appropriate hypocrisy. He is actually allowed to do this, since there’s no legal pillory for sexual harassers, a judge can’t punish him and his inviolability is encouraged.
No pillory is no transparency, so a company like Victim Support is not informed whit whom they’re in business. Sir calls this on his website something like Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Pillory or not, Sir keeps away from Earbuds man (one of my witnesses during the trial) during a Salesforce seminar in Amsterdam on the 26th of March.
‘Why look back at last year’, ‘be superior to it’ or ‘just let it go’ are the responses to be expected on this blog. Understandable reactions that are based on concern of people who care for me. But it is good to look back and to be able to see that many good things happened last year. For example the lecture at the University of Aruba was of great value. An experience that made me, with cause, feel and to be a strong woman again. Knowing that with this knowledge and experience I’m able to help people; not only victims, but also students / (future) employees and companies itself, how to deal with a situation like sexual harassment in the workplace. And even better, how we prevent it from happening.
Cherishing the overgrowing negative emotions won’t help you forward, acknowledging and identifying them will. For reassurance, I can never be the ostrich (tosti-mole) who buries what he/she has seen and heard.
I let it all go by sharing, I’m superior to it without falling. Looking back at last year has given a piece of her, Karin Bosman, back to me.
I say, happy New Year.