Our Workplace and Survivor Outreach Clinic
So many survivors have said that when they first started to encounter the challenges and ordeals of sexual misconduct in the workplace, they wish they’d had more experienced advice — especially from those who had been there before. The boots-on-the-ground approach, so to speak.
You can’t get the straight goods from people who only know about sexual misconduct in the daylight from 9 to 5, and never on nights or holidays. You can only get it from people who have lived it in the darkest times.
But the fact is, you can’t get the straight goods from people who only know about sexual misconduct in the daylight from 9 to 5, and never on nights or holidays — like staff in an EEOC call center or its Canadian counterparts. Or lawyers. You can only get it from people who have lived it in the darkest times. The sleepless nights. The ruined holidays. The weekends that somewhere along the way turned into a Stephen King novel full of indefinable but ominously portending objects, endlessly looping scenes from that incident you would really like to forget but can’t, and obsessive dread of returning to office hell on Monday. Only survivors who have been there genuinely know what that is like.
When I was going through my most difficult times, I wished there had been a safe place where I could seek out knowledgeable advice and support. I tried major women’s groups. None was interested. They all said they were big- picture outfits that can’t focus on the personal experiences of women in the everyday workplace. I contacted a number of highly accomplished women who had risen to the top of their organizations, thinking they might actually see how wrong it is that the price for standing up against sexual misconduct is the destruction of an otherwise successful career. It didn’t register. Even women who occupy leading roles at universities, including those researching gender equality and discrimination issues couldn’t find the reply button. For your convenience, there is a button on this page you can use to send us an email about your concerns. We don’t ignore our messages.
Then there were women reporters and columnists who talked a good show about equality in the workplace. But my outreach to them went about the same way it did for Melanie Sloan when she tried to connect with journalists to talk about the sexual misconduct antics of her underwear-clad boss, then-U.S. Congressman John Conyers.
Like Melanie’s, my female colleagues, some of whom I had known for nearly 20 years, were clearly uncomfortable with the subject and quickly gave me the brush off. I didn’t know then how common this “bystander effect” is when it comes to sexual misconduct. It’s almost universal in the workplace.
Making decisions about what to do in the face of sexual assault, sexual harassment or retaliation for making a complaint are among the most far-reaching and consequential choices any woman will ever make. They are not decisions that should be made alone.
This isn’t the way it should be. Making decisions about what to do in the face of sexual assault, sexual harassment or retaliation for making a complaint are among the most far-reaching and consequential choices any woman will ever make. They can carry profound repercussions that can affect every aspect of a woman’s life for years into the future. They are not decisions that should be made alone, or without sage advice from those who have actually lived those challenges and decisions.
After all the silence, rejection and lack of interest, I promised that if I ever got through the long, dark tunnel of despair that can quickly confront anyone struggling with sexual misconduct, especially when it involves a mal-intentioned employer trying to cover-up for someone at the top, I would make myself and my experiences available to anyone whom they might help.
This brings us to The Zero Now Campaign’s Workplace and Survivor Outreach Clinic. We provide access to other survivors from a variety of workplace experiences who can offer supportive guidance and counselling — or just listen with a compassionate but informed ear.
Since I finally summoned the courage to write about this subject, I’ve heard from hundreds of survivors from across Canada, all through the U.S. and abroad. You might say I was dealing with the #MeToo movement before it even knew it was the #MeToo movement.
Since I finally summoned the courage to write about this subject six years ago, I’ve heard from hundreds of survivors from across Canada, all through the U.S. and abroad. I’ve heard from family members of survivors, and bystanders who wish they’d done more to help a colleague when it was needed. You might say I was working with the #MeToo movement before it even knew it was the #MeToo movement.
These combined experiences, and the narrative they have built, have become an invaluable learning tool we are happy to share.
If you have experienced sexual harassment or violence at work, only you can decide to speak out and/or file a formal complaint. But we can provide evidenced-based information and perspectives from others that might help you navigate your journey along this perilous road.
Our consultations are initiated by email, which can later migrate to telephone- or Skype-based interactions. Be sure in your initiating email to give as much detail as possible. Everything you send will be kept strictly confidential and will never be used without your express written consent.
— Kathleen Finlay, Founder
The Zero Now Campaign