He appeared to be kind and compassionate. Finally seeing me as his equal, interested in only my occupational skills and not the physical. I accept the invitation to the promotion but little did I know this promotion will cost me.
Day of the promotion announcement, I didn’t sleep. Nerves got the better of me. Lying next to my husband who is dead to the world, his snoring grows loudly, there’s no possible way sleep will be mines tonight. In anticipation I feel I haven’t prepared enough for this new opportunity. I’m up looking for the right suit again, the right pair of shoes. Lining my ducks in a roll, running through all possible questions pairing with the right answers, I found myself downstairs in the kitchen for a cup of coffee. I own the morning, sitting here in the dusk as the morning says hello, my family awakes. Vibrant and brilliant my hubby and the boys attempts to fix breakfast for this hard-working mom. French toast and bacon such a feat. Back up stairs standing in the closet giving a final look over I quickly and excited get dressed deciding on my black & light gray pinned striped suit paired with a light gray blouse, picking up my briefcase special made for me with my initials branded on. I’m heading downstairs seeing my loving husband my two sons staring up at me with a newfound respect yes momma going back to work. I survived the worst thing breast cancer and now I’m back in it to win it. Backing out of the driveway, I see my boys standing there the three of them waving goodbye.
Pulling into the parking structure, I quickly realize all my dreams and hard work will finally pay off today. Today I will be made partner. The first African-American woman partner at my firm. Into the elevator up up up I go the doors open to the eighty-seventh floor. The firm is full of life. People running everywhere it’s like a mini-city so vibrant. At my office door my assistant approaches with Starbucks and a stack of papers I’m holding the door open, we enter there we began our game plan. “Welcome back I should say and congrats partner” we both giggle I mean after all it’s her victory as well as mines. People coming in and out with well wishes and congratulatory messages, me very pleased, excited and overjoyed “thanks but let’s get back to work.”
Tick Tock the clock on the wall plays a game slowly counting down until my interview with the partners finally 11 o’clock interview time. Down the hall I go into the big double doors. Surprised there’s no partners attendees. Just the big boss standing at the end of his desk. Pretending to look over paperwork he’s shuffling through. I dare to utter a word but before I can complete my sentence he grumbles incoherently about the position. Recapping, rehashing what this position really is, it was like he was trying his best to scare me off. However, as always I reassured him that I’m up for the task. He asked me how badly do I want this position. I thought that was a curious questions. He seen the perplexed look on my face and he repeated the questions. Again reassuring him that I’m up for the challenge. Sit down he said, as if I’m in trouble. He walks over pouring drinks whiskey I think, walking over to me sitting on the edge of his desk he hands me the glass and ask me again how badly do I want the job. What would I be willing to do. “Sir?” He sits the glass down leans over grabbing my face and planting a big fat wet tongue kiss. Shocked I slapped him. He laughs and replied “Oh you like it rough” proceeds to unzip his pants reach over grabbing my face again this time pushing down toward his private area. I pushed away and I get up to walk out but before I can open the door he pushes it should and assured me that if I walked out and tell anyone my career is over. I opened the door and walked out. Disgusted and angry the whole day I was thinking about what happened to me and how many women he attacked. If they actually did what he wanted. I closed myself up, held up in my office blinds closed no calls no clients just me the daylight and my thoughts.
Later that afternoon it was announced that I’m the new partner. I have the vaguest idea why. I would like to believe I got the promotion because of my hard work but after this morning I am sure I got the position as a way to buy my silence.
Driving home all I can think about is how to tell my husband of twenty-tw years what happen. What would he say? I don’t know how to keep this secret, my dirty little secret. I got home seen my boys at the dinner table ready to eat I couldn’t bring myself to say anything.
After accepting the promotion I felt dirty and disgusting. I couldn’t imagine what he has done to other women. How far did he take it. I didn’t say a word not for a long time don’t know why I guess I was afraid of how I would be portrayed. The victim always is portrayed as a whore you know that mentality of thinking the victim asked for it. I read an article about Anita Hill and how she was doing and the event that changed her life. I didn’t want to go through that putting my husband and sons in the spotlight so I kept quiet.
Fifteen years later, I am the CEO of the firm. We have seen many good and bad days. The monster has since retired and I don’t have to be reminded of his indiscretions anymore. I can now finally after all these years open my eyes and not be afraid to see. Here I am now making deals for my company and in this dealing making negotiations, I see a familiar face. An ex colleague who years ago left the company to start her own venture capital company. She and I sit for a glass of wine shooting the shit and out of nowhere she tells me what happened that lead up to her leaving the company. The story wasn’t pretty. He actually sexually assaulted. She informed me that she wasn’t the only one. He nearly killed her career because she filed a complaint. The company paid her off brought her silence as well.
After my drinks I decided to do research see how many women was assulted. He would go on to assault over twenty-one women and 1 guy over his forty-six year reign. Although many of the stories are the same, I later found out the statute has run out only four women including myself have a case. Now it becomes a matter of choosing to have our lives and the lives of our loved one picked apart. I seen how men of power treat victims I wasn’t sure if I can handle that and I would have to tell my dirty little secret to my husband and how would he take it. Coming forth I would lose everything. I decided to come forth. I told my husband then my sons who are now married with families of their own. My family was with me when I contacted the authorities. They would be with me when I resign from my post and they are with me as I file a lawsuit against the company I once worked.
I am not afraid anymore. I can say out loud the things he has done to me and not be ashamed. I will no longer minimize his role in this nightmare.
Some parts of this story is based on several people who have dealt with men of power with inappropriate behavior or sexual assault. We all know someone who is a victim. Coming forth takes guts no matter how long ago. Coming forth is the only way this will stop. If you know someone who is a victim and need help contact your local authorities. No more silence, no more fear. If you or someone you know is a victim of assault please contact your local authority or click on the link: #MeToo
Your not alone.