No Longer The Victim | Protecting My Inner Child (Sexual Harassment at Work)

Today at work my boss made some really inappropriate comments to me in front of other staff members. It's been ongoing lately, and it is really upsetting.  I like my part-time job. It's my source of income, and I enjoy the work. I don't need this kind of stress.

Years ago, in a situation like this, I would likely have reacted very impulsively and become "out of control" emotionally.  I know this because it did happen years ago, and that was my reaction.

This time, I wasn't going to allow myself to be victimized again. I won't lose my mind, I won't let anyone make my work life so uncomfortable that I don't want to go to work, and I will not let anyone violate me. Those days are over.  I have a responsibility and commitment to protect my inner child now that I am older. I am an adult, and I now have an toolbox full of coping skills and ways to advocate for my rights.

I decided to call my boss on his behavior, professionally and firmly and to make it known to others in the company that this type of behavior will not be tolerated. I don't need my boss saying demeaning things, especially in front of other staff. It sets a precedence, and I will not be treated that way. I don't want others thinking it's ok for them to be treated that way either.

It's been a while since we covered Interpersonal Effectiveness in  DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) class, so I had to consult my trusty binder. 

The sections I focused on today are:


  • Interact in a why that makes you feel competent and effective, not helpless and overly dependent

  • Stand up for yourself, your beliefs and opinions, follow; follow your wise mind. "
from   Skills Training Manual     by Marsha Linehan   (c) 1993 The Guilford Press

The questions under Self-Respect Effectiveness from the same manual are:

" 1. How do I want to feel about myself after the interaction is over?
   2. What do I have to do to feel that way about myself? What will work?"

The old me would have run to everyone who would listen and tell them my story, from the position of a victim. In the past, I would have worried a lot about getting my boss upset or causing him not to like me if I stood up for myself. I would have worried about losing my job. 

Now I am staying in Wise Mind, focusing on setting and maintaining boundaries, appropriate work behavior, and standing up for myself when it feels necessary to do so. I want to feel good about my choices and responses.

Last week and today, I've chosen to communicate in firm, professional emails, and I have only discussed the matter with my significant other and other employees who were directly exposed to the harassment. (Oh, and I tweeted...)

I am going to continue to consult my DBT Binder and also share tomorrow in my group therapy session. 

Sexual harassment is difficult for anyone to endure. As a person who experienced sexual exploitation as a child and who was not protected by the adults around her, I have carried a burden for many years. I am just beginning to heal from those times. It's probably going to be a long process. In the meantime, I do not need to deal with grown men in the workplace triggering my old wounds. The law protects me against it.  

I hope this serves as an encouragement to anyone who has ever been through or who is currently going through this type of situation...or maybe you know someone who is.  There are appropriate ways to take care of this situation while taking care of you. 

Thanks for reading. More soon.


  1. I really enjoyed this post. I don't know much about borderline personality disorder, or about DBT, but this has been so informative and very interesting to read. And good for you! I bet you feel fantastic for what you have done!

  2. Hi. I am proud of you. It takes tremendous courage to stand up for yourself. I am a BPD and have been through verbal abuse for years in my family. I love my family but I also want them to understand that certain things they say to me day in and day out are not correct. I loved one line you wrote- that as an adult you now hold the responsibility to protect your inner child! That's so true!!! It touched me deeply. I support you in your venture, will keep you in my prayers, and want to tell you that I am very very proud of yo!! Take care.



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