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I’m 29 years old, married with one child. A graduate of BSE, I applied to and was taken by a government agency where I worked in the department headed by one of the most admired and most respected men in the agency. I was flattered that he had a fatherly attitude towards me. He told me that I am like a daughter to him and that he saw many potentials in me to enable me to advance in my career and be like him. He mentored me and I came to know so many technical things because of his great teaching skills. He proudly showed me off as his protégé. Because of his outstanding evaluation of my performance, I was promoted twice in three years, something that became a cause of envy among my co-employees.
One late afternoon, he called me to his office. I was surprised when I opened the door that he was behind it. As I entered, he locked the door, embraced me tight and kissed me. I pushed him away and ran out. This caught the attention of his secretary and perhaps others. I was so shocked; I hurriedly picked up my things and left the office. I took a sick leave. Now I’m back but I feel tense and uneasy. He had not called me to apologize nor given me any task to do since I returned.
I want to transfer to another department but cannot do so without telling the truth about what he did which could be a cause of a sexual harassment case against him. I don’t want to resign because I will have to tell my husband, who is the jealous type, and who will surely not only kill him but might even suspect me of having invited the sexual harassment unconsciously. I’m not sure if I ever want to work with my boss again since I don’t trust him anymore. Our relationship is strained unless I tolerate any advance which I definitely will not because it is against my conscience and my values.
What shall I do?

Ms. Harassed

 

You have ruled out seeking a transfer to another department and resigning from the government agency. You want to protect the image of your boss who had been your mentor and coach yet you also want to uphold your dignity and live according to your values. You are angry at him for betraying your trust; yet, you are grateful for the way he had mentored and coached you, and given you a boost in your career. I suggest that you have a talk and level with him. Prepare a script of what you will say so that you will be able to deliver a complete message, choose assertive words, and have self-confidence in delivering your message.

The following is a suggested script:

  1. Sir, what you did to me on _______ completely shocked me. I never thought of you doing that to me because I’ve looked up to you and respect you, Sir, not only as my mentor but also as a father.
  2. Because of my gratitude to you for having developed me and for advancing my career, I have told no one about what you did, Sir.  Hence, I have not sought a transfer to another department nor resign to avoid a scandal.
  3. Sir, if you wish for me to continue to work in your department, please do not do that again because I’m not one who will tolerate it even if I owe my career advancement to you. We are both married persons. I for one don’t want to be unfaithful to my husband and commit a sin against God and against him. I also want to retain my self-respect and my respect for you, Sir.
  4. If you do it again, Sir, much to my regret, I’ll be forced to resign. Then I will have to tell my husband who might retaliate.

Refine your script. Then practice saying it so that you will deliver it confidently. If you ask me if you can email your message, my answer is no. It might fall into the wrong hands. Or, he may not be able to read your email. If you want to print your message, do so but give it to him in person. Then you are sure he gets it. The advantage of a face- to-face encounter is that your tone of voice and facial expression can enhance the delivery of the message. You also get instant response instead of wondering if he got the message at all and what his reaction is.
I admire you for your integrity and for living according to your values.

 

God bless you.

 

Josie Santamaria