If you have worked hard to get to where you are in your career, but you’re worried you’re going to have to give up everything you’ve worked for because of harassment, talk to me. I hope this blog has given you an overview of what is possible in your life and how you can use your experience of harassment as a starting point to become the powerful presence you were meant to be.
I want to see you take up space. Take up all the space you’ve been given, and then grow to take up more. I want to see you be the most powerful person, the biggest energy, in every room you enter. When I take my clients through a legal case, I want to know they can get on the stand and command the attention of the entire jury and judge with their story. And each of them gets there.
They don’t start out that way. I didn’t start out that way. Taking power over your life is hard work, and it requires you to lean into the sharpness of life. My clients learn how to be curious about the harassment they are experiencing, but to ask themselves the right questions about it.
My clients come to me asking, “What did I do to deserve this?” and they leave asking better questions like, “How is this going to help me?” They don’t make that transition because of wishful, forced, positive thinking. They make that transition out of commitment to what they are meant to create in the world, courage to be vulnerable and fail, and a willingness to do the hard work of getting up again every time they fall down.
They commit to breaking the cycle of making themselves small and giving up space to avoid harassment.
Too often I talk to women who leave job after job, career after career, to avoid harassment. This ends up costing them probably hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of their life, trying to avoid harassment. It seems like the easy solution at the time and sounds easier than confronting harassment and dealing with it, but really, ignoring and avoiding harassment is much, much more work and incredibly expensive. Traditional law firms try to do what they can to help women with legal claims, but they are limited in truly ending harassment in their clients’ lives. Often women resolve one claim, but then go on to continue to experience harassment in another job or career.
Here is a recap of the strategies I will teach you if we work together to develop a personalized career defense plan:
Strategy 1: Law. Many women come to me having tolerated harassment in misery for years, not really understanding whether the law applied to them. Using this strategy, I get a clear picture of the current situation, walk you through how the law applies to your situation, and help you understand what you need to do if you want to preserve or bring a legal claim. If you are in a state where I am not licensed to practice law, I use my network to find an attorney in that state who can advise you about the law in that state. We work together to figure out how to use the law in your favor.
Strategy 2: Reality. For many of my clients, it is one thing to understand what the law expects from them, but they fall into feeling overwhelm and even depression and despair when it comes to following through on what they need to do to apply it. Using this strategy, I get a clear understanding of the reality of your life, the obstacles you are facing, and the practical side of how to apply the law to your situation and get the most successful result. I use my personal and professional experience, as well as your unique understanding of the people involved, to decide the best course of action forward.
Strategy 3: Mapping. One of the biggest pitfalls I see for women who choose not to work with me is that they think changing their jobs or even leaving cities or careers will be enough to end harassment. That is almost never enough to really end harassment for good, and it ends up costing them time and money. Using the tools in the Mapping strategy, I teach you how to become stronger, more committed, more courageous, super-hero versions of yourself and end harassment for good in your life. We create a plan together for exactly what to do going forward and for what you need to think, how you need to feel, and what you need to do in order to get to your plan for success.
Strategy 4: Action. Many women do not even realize the small (or big) ways they are giving in to harassment by saying “yes” to make other people happy. Using the Action strategy, my clients learn to honor what they say “yes” to and be very deliberate about it. This strategy helps you become uncompromising about being your own advocate and on your own side.
Strategy 5: Consequences. When women leave careers because of harassment or in any way make themselves small, it actually rewards the harasser. It gives him no reason to change. Harassment gets bigger, and the next time you face harassment, it is even more difficult to shut it down. Using the Consequences strategy, I help you understand how to set clear boundaries, recognize boundary violations, and set consequences for them.
Strategy 6: Creation. Another huge pitfall I see many women fall into is that they start to get stuck in believing that harassment happens to them because there is something wrong with them or that they are broken. Your harassment may have involved trauma, but the research shows that it is possible to turn trauma into a place of amazing growth in your life. Using the Creation strategy, I help you develop a specific plan for what you want to create from your harassment experience.
Strategy 7: Purpose. When we think that life happens to us, instead of for us, we sit around and wait for our purpose to be revealed and we end up getting pushed from one harassing experience to another. In the worst-case scenario, when we give up this much power, we turn against ourselves and end up as our own worst harassers. Using the tools in the Purpose strategy, you are able to take power over your purpose in life and use it in your favor.
I apply each of these strategies in my career defense training so that my clients learn the skills to end harassment in their lives for good. This doesn’t mean that they have sheltered themselves from any rude or inappropriate men and have to live isolated and alone. It means that when they encounter rude and inappropriate men, my clients understand so thoroughly how to set consequences and use the situation in their own favor that the harassment loses all of its power over them.
Look at it this way: If an eight-year-old boy did what your harasser is doing right now, would you leave your career because of it? Would you know what to do? Would you even call it harassment? Probably, you would understand that the child needed discipline, rather than obedience. You would feel confident in your ability to walk away or respond (whichever was best for you). You certainly would not spend time and money trying to hide from him or adjust yourself to his behavior.
You say that your situation is different and more threatening – your harasser actually has power over your finances or physical safety – and I hear you. I do not take your situation lightly. My dream for you is that you become the woman who is so strong, powerful, and courageous that she looks at what you are experiencing now and it seems like that eight-year-old boy to her. She is so in touch with her own power that she is to your harasser as you are now to the harassing child. Using the seven strategies to ending harassment, you can meet that future version of yourself and at least consider what she has to say.
The biggest trap I see women fall into is thinking they can put off dealing with harassment for just a few more months or a few more years. In terms of legal claims, they often pass their time limits and lose their right to sue because they think they can just put things off a little longer. In terms of their reality, the harassment they encounter gets worse and worse until they are willing to deal with it.
Many women believe they should just be able to handle a toxic work environment on their own. But, there’s a reason you may not be able to do that: You were never taught. We all need outside support when we’re learning a new skill. Take your career, and the women coming after you, seriously enough to get the help this situation deserves.
If you think you might be experiencing harassment or sexism, but you are not sure, you can download the free, confidential assessment at https://freedomresourcecenter.com/is-your-career- safe. Don’t wait until you have lost your right to sue or until the harassment gets worse. It’s time to take your power back.
This is a selection from Career Defense 101: How to Stop Sexual Harassment Without Quitting Your Job. For a free copy of the book, visit www.CareerDefense101.com. Or you can purchase online via Amazon or Barnes & Noble (paperback $16.95, hardcover $24.95).