25 May Understanding Sexual Predators and Workplace Harassment
Legal allegations that come up with workplace harassment may trigger at least 50% of women who have “been there, done that.” This is why the Me Too Movement and Times Up Movement continue to build momentum.
The recent allegations with Tony Robbins, after a line of 200 men, always hit home and trigger the stories that we have all been through. We all understand what the manipulation looks like and how easy it is for legal twists to help and support men who want to grope and harass women, either with words or actions.
I usually don’t care to share personal stories, but believe that this will help in understanding the “how” and the “why” of Angel Guard and why it was created.
I’ve been through more than one circumstance where I’ve lost a job because I was harassed, mostly because I’ve spoken out about it or just decided to walk away because I didn’t want to deal with the sexual advances. Or, as my mother would say, “I don’t understand why you always get into those circumstances and don’t just stay quiet and do your work.”
The One That Got Away With It
I’m an artist as well as an entrepreneur. I was living in Hawaii and working with clients and also took up a position working with the main artist organization, performing Les Miserable as the main pianist. Rehearsals were long and it was a 3 month time frame to build the entire set.
The music director of the organisation is what I later learned was termed as a “sexual predator” and was known throughout the community as that. I would have never seen the signs and because it was an artist organization, there was definitely too much forgiveness of the aggressive, zany, out of context behaviour that the music director imposed on everyone.
I can almost guarantee that to this day, he continues to make the same sexual advances in his calculated and shrewd way, hurting hundreds if not thousands of women that are working under him.
Here’s The Story I Stopped Telling
When I began working with the music director, things seemed fine. It was the quirky, musical conversations of Rachmaninoff and Beethoven with an understanding of the difficulty of mastery of music.
Until the conversations became longer and the intensity of them became more demanding. This is the first stage of a sexual predator: developing a friendly, open relationship with women they are interested in.
And then the conversations started to change.
The music directors wife was a pianist, and she always had lower back pain. His conversations turned to really needing to take care of my body. Of course, this is a common cliche so I didn’t think anything of it… and then others were asked to massage my shoulders to help me.
Then the music director began to take advantage of breaks where he would massage my shoulders. I would tend to duck out to avoid the breaks as it was uncomfortable.
I’ll never forget the one time where the music director told me he was going to show me an exercise to help my back. Of course, I’m always about learning new health tricks. He goes, stand against this wall and place your hands here. So, I did thinking it would be a stretch. Instead, he went behind me and pinned me so I couldn’t move and started caressing my lower back. Amazingly, everyone was there watching.
Because of his grip, I couldn’t move either way, but when I could get my elbow in the right place, I manoeuvred and ducked out. Like most other women, I went directly into the shame and guilt as well as embarrassment that comes with being that uncomfortable.
Here’s Where the Subtle Advances Cornered Me
I had one disadvantage when I was working as the pianist. I had to be at work at 7 in the morning to start practice. And I had no car. I lived right by the bus station, but it was Hawaii. It didn’t start running early enough for me to make rehearsals.
So I had to ask someone for a ride. This is common Ohana practice so it shouldn’t have been a big deal. It was announced to the group to see who else was coming from my area.
But the one that offered was the music director. And because he took the offer, everyone else stayed silent.
These were the conversations were he opened up. It started with how he had signed a contract with the company that allowed him to behave like he wanted. He came on as a volunteer, and his music company received his salary. He then paid himself out of that salary. He told me that he did this specifically because of the women that were in the organization.
This way, he could protect himself from allegations and anything that happened went back to the responsibility of the artist organization. It was a calculated manoeuvre to give him the right to sexually harass women in the workplace.
The second sign of a sexual predator is that they will calculate, in advance, how to make their moves so they can’t be legally cornered.
The next lines that came out of his mouth were “I want to have sex with you.” The story was that his wife didn’t please him and somehow he was a victim of sexual conflict because of it. I don’t much remember what came next in that conversation. In my head, I was thinking about how I was in a car, by myself with my music director, and he could basically do anything to me. I wouldn’t be able to get out.
What Women “Can’t Do” If They Are Harassed
We were at the climax of rehearsals and everyone was stressed out about pulling off one of the largest productions that the company had done. I knew I had no chance of complaining without adding into the stress and creating conflict as someone who had to help in the way I was would be problematic. More important, we were too deep into the process for any of the dynamics to change.
What I couldn’t do was complain. So I avoided. Somehow, the music director knew his timing was perfect to avoid confrontation. This is the 3rd sign of a sexual predator. They understand and calculate the perfect timing to make sure they remain protected.
So I avoided. I ducked out early to find a different ride. And I told a close friend what had happened to see if she would help me, even though she didn’t have to be at rehearsals at 7 in the morning. Luckily, she started the complaints about him before I told her and said she saw him as a sexual predator, so it built a small network of help.
Amazingly, it was at this time that other women seemed to have the same issues. He would call women names in the middle of rehearsals, relating them to prostitutes or sexual objects. He would go up to other women and start touching them inappropriately, acting as though he were helping them learn their sets.
He had a calculated formula… Yes… he got away with all of his advances without a word being said. He knew that the stress would be too high to control him and his behaviours. And, he knew that most individuals were now comfortable with his irate behaviour so he could do what he wanted.
He received so many complaints and so much discomfort that the “job” of one of the production assistants was to sit by him and stop him from making comments about people or to start fondling girls.
Everyone knew who he was and what he was doing. And their response was to baby-sit him. It usually didn’t work and his rages continued. He knew he was untouchable, and so… he continued to touch.
The Raging Fire of Sexual Predators
My plan of avoidance worked temporarily and it seemed like I was out of the space of sexual advances.
Except the music director didn’t like that call. He became irate.
When I first began working as the pianist, I would receive compliments, recognition and would be easy to work with by those who were learning their parts from me.
But towards this time, the demeanour changed. No one knew why. I was constantly yelled at in front of everyone. If the music director could find a way, he would shame me as much as possible. It was constant. And everyone saw it.
At one point, he decided to call me on the phone and began yelling at me. Over what, I don’t know. It had something to do with being irresponsible and unaware and causing the entire music production to fall apart on my behalf. This is the 4th sign of a sexual predator. Irate behaviours to try to control the outcome of someone they are working with.
I had taken so much of the yelling and triggered behaviour that I didn’t show up to the rehearsal. It was the only time that I allowed my emotions to get in the way and was 30 minutes late.
It was such an extreme behaviour by me that it caught the attention of the director of the show. Because there was so much shaming and yelling and targeted insults towards me, the director decided that we needed to talk.
How Admitting Harassment Is a Backfire
At the meeting with the director, I decided to “tell all.” I didn’t understand that I wasn’t safe in doing so as the director seemed fairly nice, concerned, and he had daughters. He was also already very aware of the abusive behaviour of the music director.
In fact, I was told that he knew the music director was like this before he hired him, but decided to hire him anyway.
So I complained and carried on. I didn’t think anything of it.
Until I was called in after all the performances were over to speak to an HR person.
The strange thing was, there was not an HR department in the music department. After my complaint, they hired a 3rd party HR team, ProService, to investigate what had occurred.
The HR team ProService specialises in protecting companies who are facing sexual harassment allegations, making sure that any form of legal action is stopped. It’s something every woman needs to know if they are complaining to an HR team.
How I Lost My Job
Before I was grilled by ProService, I received information from a lawyer who specialised in harassment. She’s the one who informed me of the calculated moves of a sexual predator. She also knew who the music director was because she had received other complaints about him.
I was told to be aware of the questions of the HR director because it was most likely to protect the company, but that everything would be fine.
I know enough about HR to understand that they were asking me the wrong questions. They wrote down information that could be used against me. But at that time, I wasn’t planning to move forward legally, so I didn’t think anything of it.
When the HR team came back and started to set me up with a legal conflict, I knew I was in hot water. So I filed a sexual harassment case back against the company to protect myself.
The next few weeks were torture. The music company made sure that everything I did was wrong. They complained about someone walking me to class, and everyone started to back off on asking me for help. They lowered the number of hours that I worked from 30 hours per week… to 2 hours per week. Leading me from making enough to live on the island to making $50 each week.
This is the funny thing about complaints with sexual harassment. The person that speaks is the one at fault. That’s how companies protect themselves. After telling the HR company about the circumstances, I felt as though I should be shamed. In fact, during the meeting, the director stated that “I was acting out high drama and maybe I should write a play about it instead.”
To top it off, I knew that the music director was complaining about my behaviours and personality because he didn’t get what he wanted. And, the island is small. I stopped receiving requests to help people with piano. I stopped receiving clients that before loved my marketing services. And, my hours were gone from the music company that before loved me.
Everything I built up on the island came to a dead halt.
The Last Days of Hawaii
My complaint to receive legal assistance was denied. It took 2 years to come to a determination.
They couldn’t figure out which company the music director worked for. And, I didn’t have enough evidence that the music company was liable.
The initial calculation that the sexual predator put in place worked for him.
By that time, I had left the island. The circumstances became extreme enough that I couldn’t afford to live in Hawaii anymore. I lost my apartment and couldn’t find a new one. Because I couldn’t find work from the gossip, my finances went from flourish to almost 0.
By the help of a friend, I received enough money for an airline ticket to Asia and have never returned.
I’ve never played with another musical organization since this incident and I don’t plan on exposing myself in that way again. For 2 years, I spent time freelancing in ways that were quiet and in the background… where I didn’t have to deal with anything possibly coming up. And that’s when I started to spend more time meditating on angels and the possibility of Angel Guard.
What I Wish I Had
These are the things that we don’t think about until after the circumstances. Mostly because we think a company will keep us safe and that things will be different.
It’s not true.
We have to protect ourselves at work, at home and on the streets. Remember, a sexual predator plans his moves with calculated approaches. We absolutely have to do the same.
It’s up to us and is our responsibility to give ourselves that much honour of who we are and what we deserve as a part of our lives. As women in this day and age, we must protect ourselves.
There is a version of Angel Guard that is a bracelet. The bracelet has a mic in it to automatically start recording and saving to your app.
There was no way I could collect evidence when I was being sexually harassed. There wasn’t enough time to grab my phone, set things up or respond quickly to what happened.
And so I had no backup to help myself. Of course, a company, with HR support, will always deny that anything happened because they can’t afford it any other way.
That means that if you are sexually harassed in the workplace, it requires others to step up with you. If that doesn’t happen (because they are most likely also in a fear state of losing their position), then you are the outcast.
If I had the evidence from an Angel Guard bracelet, the outcome would have been different. If I knew how to corner the evidence, then there would have not been a question. If I had the recordings from my angel to my phone, then there would have been a force of hands to honour my statements.
The outcome to my entire life (literally) would have been different.
We can’t change workplace harassment or sexual predators until we build evidence and create cases where the calculated actions and what we are facing is really understood.
My hope is that enough cases are built up with workplace harassment through Angel Guard that it becomes a symbol. My hope is that the word gets around to the CEOs, bosses and men who think it’s “ok” because there are easy ways to get away with it.
And just by wearing the angels alone, they know that stepping over those boundaries is not okay, and it’s not women that will lose their job, but men who are in danger for inappropriate behaviour.
My hope is that with the angels, we learn how to honour and respect each other and boundaries that we all deserve to have.