It’s that time of year again, October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Each year here in the US many people organise events to help raise awareness against violence and abuse. We do need to see as many purple ribbons, as we see pink ribbons for Breast Cancer Awareness. I’m sure we’ll get there.
As each year passes we slowly get a little further with changes for victims, notably this week we have seen the state of California lift its Statute of Limitations for Sexual Assault. This is going to be interesting.
Years ago when we were assaulted, we were given the ‘it happened, it’s really nothing, it happens all the time, don’t know why you're upset, stop it and get on with your life’ Do any of these sound familiar?
I had all those comments thrown at me after I was assaulted. It was difficult at the time because it had extra weight added to it. I was a mortgage broker with my own business in the UK, working closely with several mortgage lenders. It was a good time to get a mortgage, even a sub-prime mortgage. Rates were low with fixed terms and low redemption rates. They were as good as mainstream lenders, some were better! There was one, in particular, if we are talking about giving a client the best mortgage it was usually placed with the lender in London.
The business relationship had been wonderful for two years, we had become friends with some of the directors. The marketing director had invited us to London for their events, in turn, we invited him down to ours. It was a good business relationship, until one weekend.
Many people bad gathered in Devon to see a solar eclipse. The evening before he arrived, I cooked, we all had a wonderful meal, went to the seafront, wandering around the fair, watching the firework display. We were friends having a relaxing evening. We had invited him down for s couple of reasons, he was a friend who really wanted to see the eclipse in the path of totality and we knew he was stressed. They had gone over the credit limit with the bank and it had pulled funding from them. Their mistake, they should have kept s closer eye on their line of credit. It had caused us immense problems, but we stayed loyal, as they had done with us. It was later that evening when we got home the problems started. We sat on the sofa chatting until my partner went to collect something from our offices attached to our house. As soon as he disappeared, the marketing director lunged at me, hands everywhere, trying to kiss me, as I struggled to get his hands out of my blouse and pants.
My partner came back with the papers he wanted to show him, he shot back to where he had been sitting. I was stunned, speechless. After he looked at the documents, my partner disappeared again. Suddenly I was fighting the director again. He exclaimed he loved me, that I wasn’t pretty but had the X factor, wait… what? I told him to back off in no uncertain terms! He then issued his quid pro quo. If I was to creep into his bedroom that night and have sex with him (and leave my partner sleeping in the next-door bedroom) he would give me funding again when the credit line was arranged again. If I didn’t sleep with him, no more funding. I was appalled! I thought back wondering if I had ever flirted with him. Not that I remembered.
Later, he went upstairs to bed and I dragged my partner outside and told him what had happened, thinking he would back me if I threw the lecherous man out not the street at one in the morning. What happened? He laughed, he thought it was funny! I didn’t. I was told "Be nice to him, he will be able to fund again, don’t rock the boat. I was furious.
The next morning, I bit my lip and was pleasant. He waited for me in the kitchen, asking if I thought he had been out of order with his quid pro quo. My answer was hell yeah! Again he tried to hug me, running his hands up and down my back. I squirmed away, telling him to back off! I honestly thought that him spending the night alone would have given him the messages, apparently not. I kept a safe distance from him, thankfully he left earlier than planned. I was steaming. We had invited friends for the day and they knew something had happened. I explained to them how I felt. Everyone said to go to the police apart from my partner and his family, saying if I went to the police, we would be blacklisted in the mortgage world. We would be out of business.
I did file a complaint with the police, but I was hounded day and night by my partner to let it drop. I gave in and dropped the sexual assault charge but not before the director had been told to make the three-hour trip back to Devon to make a statement. I was told when the police had called him he was offered to either travel down to make the statement or they would kindly send a couple of officers to his office in Kensington, where they would kindly give him a ride to Paddington Police Station for his statement. The police were understandably upset when I dropped the charge, asking me if I’d been bullied into dropping it. I had been, I had been shoved, pushed, shouted at threatened with serious violence if I proceeded with the charge.
It took eight weeks for the lender to come back into the marketplace, eight weeks for my name to be spread out to other lenders as the woman who shouts ‘assault’... Do I wish I had gone ahead with the charge, yes I do!
I understand the mortgage company is no longer operating, however, the Sales and marketing Director is still working in the industry in the position in another mortgage company. I wonder where he would be now if I hadn’t dropped the charge… we will never know…
In the UK you have 5 years to proceed with charges, for me, it's longer than 5 years. Sexual assault leaves behind depression, anxiety and stress. It can disrupt personal relationships and family, which can take years of healing.
Would you file charges? Have you encountered sexual harassment in workplace? Or at home?