"I was 18 when I came home and told my mum I was being sexually harassed at work." – Mamamia

Posted: November 25, 2019 at 6:43 pm

Tonight, the ABC will air a three-part documentary series tackling sexual harassment in the workplace.

Among many other brave and formidable women, one of the people featured in the documentary is me.

Except, ironically, you cant actually know what happened to me. What precisely was done to me, which led me to being on your TV screens. You also cant know how my employers handled the situation. You cant know what happened to that perpetrator.

Despite the name of the documentary, Silent No More, I, for a large part, am legally silenced.

This is absolutely through no fault of the incredible documentary makers, who fought so hard for the inclusion of my story. Rather, the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) I signed when I resigned from the workplace after experiencing ongoing sexual harassment from this one employee.

I suppose one of the questions on your mind must be what compelled me to sign an NDA. I had just turned 18 when the perpetrator walked into my life. I was also 18 when I resigned and the settlement, including the NDA, was processed.

Now 21, I dont think Im far enough away from the experience to truly understand how my age impacted the situation. However, I am certain that when youre 18 and your employers, colleagues and perpetrator arent, the imbalance of power between all parties is only tipped further.

At no age is it easy to stare down the barrel of a sexual harassment case, but when youre 18 years old and receiving letters from lawyers, my mind said to get out. Fast.

When I first told my mum what this man was doing to me at work, I just wanted to resign. I didnt want to report. I just so desperately wanted to get out. I had become terrified and physically sick with fear at work, that I wanted the fastest one-way route out of that place: resignation.

With some convincing from my mum and a lawyer, we started some very simple proceedings. Opening up conversations with the employer about my options. To be transparent, I could have escalated my claim to the states Workplace Health and Safety regulator or taken it to court. It was explained that both of those could be quite long and rigorous processes to endure.

And, like many people who dont report allegations of violence, they were simply processes I could not endure. Few people warned me the process of reporting, which I cant talk about, would incur a different type of trauma to the harassment itself. I still had uni to go to the next day, work in my other jobs, and also be an 18-year-old who didnt run home fuelled by bottled panic from the train station.

So, thats how we came to me resigning and settling. Settlement involves a whole bunch of things and agreements, which you cant know about, but the biggest part of the settlement is the NDA inclusion.

I balanced what the settlement gave me; my safety, against what it took away from me; my ability to explain what had been done to me, and I chose my safety.

Despite the way it tears at my heart that people cant know about my experiences, I would choose my safety again. Because, unfortunately, we still do live in a cruel structure that makes many of us choose.

Safety.

Or, your voice.

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"I was 18 when I came home and told my mum I was being sexually harassed at work." - Mamamia

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