When I was 19 years old, I got my first job working in a fast food restaurant. I was so happy to have gotten the job. I was so proud to surprise my father with this news as he’d helped me in the past with work and this time I’d done it by myself. Even though the interview was very odd- the interviewer was almost 2 hours late and he didn’t read my carefully constructed resumé I’d worked so hard to make- I was ecstatic. My father worked for the corporate version of this fast food chain. I worked for the franchisee. It turned out that the owner of my store and my father knew each other. The young man, who was 28 at the time, who hired me found out about my father’s position in the company and believed I’d gotten the job with my fathers help. He was assigned to train me and would put me down with degrading remarks. He didn’t train me and instead said I should figure things out on my own. I was afraid if I said anything, I’d look like I wasn’t a hard worker, and so I kept quiet. He treated all of my co-workers in this way. I realized that all of my co-workers were young women.
When our store was being remodeled, there’d only be about 3-5 people working a shift. He’d always choose me to work with him and often times we’d be alone. He talked about sexual conquests and how young women were great in bed and how preferred younger girls like me. I’d never heard someone speak so brazenly about such things and I didn’t know how to respond. He started helping me hand bagged food out the drive thru window and he’d pin me to the wall and press his body against me with his arm blocking any way out. I was frozen whenever he did this. I didn’t know what to do. I again said nothing. I worked 6 days a week. I wanted to leave that town and move away. I wanted to go to university and travel. I believed that if I said anything I wouldn’t be able to achieve these dreams. He began touching me inappropriately when no one saw. My other co workers who were lesbians also would touch me without my permission. I was afraid all the time there. I was also afraid if my father found out, he’d be ashamed of me and that it’d put his own working relationship with the owner and his job in a bad position. The owner believed that I’d been given that job by corporate to spy on his franchise store. That young man and those lesbians would say horrible things and touch me. Even the customers who came in were mostly male builders and they would talk sexual things to us saying what they’d do to us and even stalking us. My manager told me that they came to see me and my other coworkers. It was my job to make these men happy. I said nothing. I was stunned. There was nobody I felt I could turn to for protection. And ashamed, I thought I can’t even protect myself. For that whole year, I still had to worry about him and those people until they were transferred to other stores or quit. I sometimes feel ashamed to even be afraid, to feel fear when I see someone that resembles him when I’m walking down the street, to feel fear when my own father hugs me, to feel alone, when I wasn’t raped. But I feel as if some of the feelings I listened to on your film resonated with me. I could relate.
It’s been 5 years and I’ve told nobody. I saved up enough and moved away. I’ve never told my family. I’ve had other jobs and been sexually harassed verbally and inappropriately touched, groped. I’ve lived with pathological liars and a psychopath. I’ve felt so ashamed about being stupid to have lived with these people. I’ve felt as if I should’ve known there was something wrong with them. Aren’t I smarter than that?
It took 3 years to allow touch again. I dated for about a year and it didn’t work out. My boyfriend couldn’t understand why I was afraid when he’d surprise hug me from behind. I tried to tell him about my experiences but I felt so ashamed and stupid. I’ve struggled with why God allowed those things to happen. I find it difficult to trust anyone. Even, in the past couple of years I’ve been pretending to be happy. I’ve been pretending I’m alright even when inside I feel like I’m simply a shell of who I used to be. There are days where my belief that no matter how I feel, God is with me and things will be ok, falters.
I’ve recently relocated outside of my country and have gone back to university. I’ve met someone there who has gone through similar heartaches and pain. He’s helped me with so much. I believe that God has put him in my life. After watching your film, I was again encouraged. I hope you don’t think it stupid or silly that even though I haven’t been technically sexually assaulted that I still find encouragement in your story, in the stories of all the other women out there. I feel as if I can relate to you as if you and all of these other women would understand me and my fears, my pain. Thank you for your story and persistence. May God bless you and keep you. May he bring peace upon you and upon your family.
— Survivor, age 24