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It's Harassment, Not a Friendship

Reacting to an uncomfortable workplace environment.

I was a teenager, just finished working 3 years at a local fast food joint, and wanted to get my foot in the door at a place that would benefit my future. After an interview that went great, I scored the job of a lifetime; at 19 years old! I like to think of myself as an attractive woman. Then, and now. I was at a stage in my life where I wanted to be accepted by everyone. I wanted to be liked. My flirtatious personality is what got me in trouble... I didn't take a lot of things seriously at this point in my life, but my job was another story... I was hired as part time, yet I worked 40 plus hours a week. I worked HARD. I stayed late, came in early, whatever they needed. 

After a couple months of work, I began to have a decent work relationship with one of my very high up bosses. He didn't talk much, but when he did it was directed towards me. Which made me feel amazing and noticed. I was constantly thinking, "Wow... My boss actually likes me... I scored this awesome job and he likes me!" One day he was rambling on about his fun filled day he had planned for his day off. I finally got a chance to fit in a few words, so I told him  that the day he was speaking of was my day off as well. His reply was unexpected. "Well if you enjoy skiing as much as I do, we can meet up and have a great time!" He cautiously glanced around the store, then pulled his phone from his pocket and asked for my number. 

I didn't think anything of it... I honestly just thought he was trying to be nice, or had a group of people going with him and wanted me to tag along. (May I let everyone know that this man, my boss, was in his mid 40's, had a fiance and a stepdaughter a year younger than myself at the time.) Without a second thought, I put my number in and pressed save contact. Little did I know that from that day on, my life was about to change. After I got home that day I thought about why I even gave him my number. Was it just because he asked? "Yes..." I answered myself. He then texted me that night asking if I still wanted to go. I thought about it, and no I didn't want to go. I felt so awkward. So I replied, "I'm sorry, but I already my plans that day." The conversation then ended. 

He was constantly pulling me into his office just to talk, or show me pictures he's taken of the places he's been. There was the occasional flirting, which wasn't uncomfortable, because he was never weird about it. I mean, hey, talking to him while I was on the clock got me out of doing work right? After about a month of him and I just continuing a "work friendship" I started dating someone. Someone who I really cared about and wanted to start a life with. My boyfriend and I then moved in together and were very happy. After work later that week, my boss and I were off at the same time. He asked if a wanted to grab a coffee with him because he wanted to talk. I didn't think anything of it so I met him at a local Starbucks. As soon as we walked in he asked me what I wanted and insisted on paying. I felt a "date" vibe as soon as he did. We sat and talked for about an hour. He asked me if I went to college, about my family and other innocent topics. When I told him where I went to college he began to say how expensive that must have been. I replied that I was still up to my neck in student debt. 

He leaned in closer to me and said, "You know, I have a lot of money... If you ever need help just let me know..." My mind was racing. I DID need help. I often thought about everything I spent because I didn't have the extra money to be spending... I honestly thought about his offer for a moment... I felt like he could tell what I was thinking. He starting the conversation again where he left off. Saying, "I hope you'll think about my offer... You'll have a beautiful house to live in, no debt, whatever clothes you want, and we can even talk about getting you out of the junk you call your car... Just tell me what you want." By that I thought, "Why is he offering me this?? What's he getting in return?? Sex? Is that what he's thinking??" I didn't know what to do or say at this point. 

I then began talking about his fiance to try to let him know that he has a woman waiting for him at home and that I genuinely didn't know where this conversation was going. He talked about his fiance like she was something he could just throw away. Which made me very upset at the thought. He said that they only know each other for 5 years and that he'd be willing start over. By this time I knew what he was getting at and wanted to leave. I told him I needed to go home because it was getting late. His reply shocked me. He responded that he would love for me to take up his offer, but in order for me to do so, I couldn't work for him and I had to live with him if I wanted to make the relationship work.. WHAT?!?! OH MY GOSH. Did he just say that?!?! 

I then left immediately feeling violated, confused, and emotional. I obviously didn't want to be with this man who was the age of my father! Did I give him a sign that led him to think I was honestly interested? I blamed myself for everything. Did my harmless flirting lead him to believe that I like him? What did I do? Later that night I couldn't even think about what had just happened. I went a week at work just trying to avoid him because I felt so embarrassed and awkward. Later on that week after avoiding him, he called me when I was at home by myself. He had obvious signs that he had been heavily drinking, was slurring his words and just telling me about how beautiful he thought I was and about how much he likes me and how I make him feel. I sat on the other line not saying a word, because I didn't have to he was doing all the talking. I then told him that I don't think I'd be taking his offer because I didn't feel the same way and that I also love my job. He then got very hostile, and inform me of the huge mistake I was making saying that I would never make as much working for him as I would if I quit my job to be with him. I felt like a little kid who was being punished for doing something wrong. So I told him that I had things to do and I needed to go. I hung up the phone and walked away from it. He called me back 4 times without me answering. 

I did my best to go in different directions when I saw him walking towards me at my job and found ways to try and look busy all the time when I saw him. He was harassing me. He made my job and even my life outside of work so uncomfortable and in ways kind of scary. He continued to call me telling me how much he missed hanging out even though the only time we did hang out with each other was the night we got coffee. He made me so uncomfortable around my work peers that I honestly considered quitting my job that I had waited a long time to get. I didn't talk to anyone about it. My boyfriend would often comment on how nice my boss was to me and how lucky I was to have someone like him in charge of the company I work for. I thought to myself if only he knew what was really going on. 

I didn't tell anyone because I didn't want him to get in trouble. Which I should have, this is harassment and it's not allowed especially by your boss. Thinking back on this today I should have turned him in,  but I didn't because I did not want him to lose his job. I am older and wiser now and I know to never let anyone treat me like that at the workplace or outside of work. I do not work for this company any longer, I have moved on to a better job with a more comfortable environment. If anyone has went through this or is going through this you need to contact somebody who you trust because this is not ok, no matter how innocent it may seem at first.

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