Sexual Harassment In The Workplace And At Home

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

The spotlight is now on sexual harassment from Hollywood to Congress with much in between, and it’s long overdue. Women have put up with it, considered it part of the job description and have been silent out of fear. Sexual harassment and rape occur in situations where there is an imbalance of power—a young actress/actor trying to make a career—a young person in Washington trying to keep her job and move up the ladder. There has always been the “casting couch” mentality regardless of the workplace arena. It happens in relationships and marriages as well.

In my novel Katie, the heroine, is married to a famous plastic surgeon, and she is continually raped and sexually harassed by him. He thinks she’s his property and can behave any way he wants—and does. Katie has been raised to be subservient and doesn’t think about what she wants—it’s a question of pleasing her abuser so she can avoid more abuse. In the beginning, Katie uses avoidance and denial to protect herself but then opens up to her friend Gillian who is an MD. “Don’t you understand, you are being raped? He’s forcing and demeaning you to have sex against your wishes—it’s not because you’re stupid, fat, ugly or don’t prepare his meal on time—it’s not your fault—you’re terrified.” Katie is shocked by Gillian’s description but then slowly begins to think about what her friend has said.

Katie needed to be given outside information and support to realize the situation she was in. Her friend Gillian offers to help in any way she can, and Katie’s denial begins to fall apart. A new voice in her head begins to develop that says, “This is not your fault. You don’t deserve to be treated like this. Life has something else in store for you. Make a plan. Get out. You can have a new life.”

Let’s hope the spotlight on this issue continues to help the victims who have been sexually harassed, tormented and raped. We need to break the silence, support each other and speak out.

Take good care of yourselves,