"I felt shocked, fear, violated… most importantly I felt indignant and powerless over my inability to stop his repeated trespasses."
I would suddenly feel my inner arm being pinched/grabbed/touched from behind me while I was working at my work station and at times my natural reflex would pulled my arm closer towards me and his hand would be caught between my inner arm and breast as he gleefully pulled his hands/fingers away… I felt shocked, fear, violated… most importantly I felt indignant and powerless over my inability to stop his repeated trespasses. But I have bills to pay… so no matter what happens, I must put up with it.
I was just one of his many victims…. It was on-going a year or two pre-harvey, pre #metoo.. the climate was somewhat different…
He frequently gathers his managers (his subordinates) around our place and crack crude jokes about our being single etc. He uses his body with his beer belly to block us in the narrow passage outside the ladies’ washroom. He touches the hair, neck, shoulders of other colleagues etc Other than females, he also harass young male colleagues where he approaches their work station, grab their them from their seat, lift and shakes them, as they protest and try to struggle free, touching them everywhere.
He openly harassed whom he pleases, in full view of staff and managers. He is the head of department, part of the Management team in a company that has more than a hundred staff in Singapore.
He wields absolute power to makes things difficult for those who rebuff his advances and rewards those who reciprocate his advances. There is no way one can stand against him in the office. He was way too powerful.
I resigned shortly following the departure of my beloved mom, knowing that with her now residing in my heart, I could not let her witness these indignities.
I was very much in fear as I wrote an email to my HR on my last day detailing the harassment I encountered and those that I witness. I fear nobody would believe me even though his behaviour is public knowledge and I was afraid management will discredit me because I was very junior, and my harasser was a department head. Also, the fear of him would mute most of the victims. But I was even more worried for the colleagues I left behind some of whom are victims of his harassment too.
I was very thankful that I received a very affirming reply from my HR to my email and that helps a lot for me. Other than the trauma of the harassment, I felt the need to be belief was as important. I left the organisation leaving HR to take over from there.
I did not know what happened after that… but a year later, I heard from former colleagues that he, the head of department was relieved of his duties and the organisation had engage a consultant company to conduct training to educate and empower the staff of all level to call out misbehaviour and stand up to bullies, all these training contribute to a safer, healthier work place environment and it empower staff with knowledge and skill to combat harassment and bully in the workplace.
That news brought tears of joy, relief and closure to me. The harassment has finally STOPPED! No further harassment or victims and my former colleagues and friends are now safe! And JUSTICE has been done.
I was glad that finally my former company did the right thing! And I was filled with gratitude to those who contributed to the eradication of a senior level serial harasser, protecting the staff and restoring justice for the victims.
With my eyes welled with tears, I finally get to see a rare beautiful rainbow across the sky after a rainstorm.