Post # 1
I don’t know why my first post was marked as spam and deleted….
I haven’t been at my current job very long. There’s an old man at my work who I thought was nice at first and to whom I was friendly, but sometimes he would touch me, like pat me on the back and things like that. I hate being touched, but I didn’t think much of it since he is old enough to be my grandfather. However, it’s been escalating, and he is touching me waaay too much now, like every time he sees me which is a few times a day. He pinched my arm the other day and came very close to my breast. I have heard that men do this kind of thing to test the waters and see how much they can get away with. I have also noticed he doesn’t do this with any other women at work, and he stares at me a lot. He has also said inappropriate sexual things in conversation before (not about me directly), and I tried to change the subject, but he kept going back to it.
If he does it again, I am going to tell him I don’t like to be touched. However, I am worried that he might make a big deal out of it and make things really uncomfortable. I have started trying to avoid him, but that’s too hard, and I shouldn’t have to do that.
I used to avoid men who bothered me, but I am tired of that. I once stopped going to class because a guy kept giving me “poetry” about all the pornographic things he wanted to do to me. I had never even spoken to him. He would just walk up and give me his perverted poems. It was bizarre. Anyway, I usually don’t have a problem with confrontation, but this is just embarrassing. Whenever men sexually harass me, I just feel scared, embarrassed, and angry. I’ve had guys freak out before when I tried to set boundaries, and I am just always worried about what they might do. Judging by his past behavior, the old guy has trouble letting things go.
Has anybody had to tell someone at work to stop touching them? How did it go? Is it okay to tell someone not to touch you in front of other people? Would that make the man less likely to make a scene? What were the long term effects of the confrontation? Did it impact your career negatively?
Post # 2
I’m so sorry this happened to you. It’s absolutely inexcusable and he needs to stop immediately. I personally would make a scene, and loudly say “STOP TOUCHING MY ARM, YOU’RE MAKING ME VERY UNCOMFORTABLE!” I used to work as a scientist on commercial fishing boats and in training we were told that something is harassment once you tell the other person to stop. If you don’t tell them, they A) Might not know that they are harassing you, and B) Can’t be held legally responsible unless you told them to stop and they continued. I’m sorry if it’s awkward and embarrassing in the moment, but it’s much worse to allow this behavior to continue and repeat itself.
Post # 3
“I’m sorry if it’s awkward and embarrassing in the moment, but it’s much worse to allow this behavior to continue and repeat itself.”
You’re absolutely right. I’m just dreading it and need some tips on how to approach it. Have you had to tell a guy to stop touching you before? If so, did he take it well?
Post # 4
catapple : Yes, I did have to a few times while I lived on the fishing vessels. Sometimes I was the only lady onboard so I had to be very forthright about how I wanted to be treated. Since harassment is a very big issue on boats, there were posters all over the wall threatening jail time to anyone who harassed the scientists on board. Still, sometimes someone would see what they could get away with. One of my friends had someone come into her bunk and tell her to roll over so he could hop it bed with her. She and her male coworker told him to leave, and alerted the captain. He got fired the next day and had to leave the boat. I know it’s a bit more dramatic when you live at work, but the situation you outlined Is just as unacceptable. I’m guessing he tries this with you when no one else is looking? Make it just as weird and difficult for him as he is making it for you. I’m sure he doesn’t want to be known as the office creep. He might not talk to you anymore but that’s fine! In my experience, the men I have called out were surprised and embarrassed, and they all left me alone afterwards.
Post # 5
mermaid334 : If he doesn’t talk to me anymore, that’d be a relief, lol. Usually men try to argue with me about perceived slights. Theyll pitch fits, lecture me, or try to gaslight me if I tell them “no” or that I am uncomfortable, etc. Sometimes when I just ignore men I dont even know, they’ll run after me, follow me, try to block my way, or scream at me.
It’ll probably be fine, but after all my past negative experiences, I am really anxious about it. And I am sooooo tired of having to deal with this bullshit. Thanks for your advice!
Post # 6
This sucks. He is either a pervert or totally clueless but I’d say pervert based on what you describe. It sounds like he has made you his target as he isn’t doing this to other women in the office. I know it’s uncomfortable and awkward but others will stand up for you if he gets rowdy or rude I’d think. I think you should give him the befit of the doubt just in case he is clueless and thinks you like it, and tell him first that you prefer no touching. If that doesn’t stop him or he brushes you off then report him to management. You deserve to feel safe and your body is your body. Anyone who berates you or gets angry when you set limits is not a respectful person and you don’t need to feel bad about hurting their feelings.
Post # 7
If this is happening at work, tell your supervisor or manager. She/he can help you find the best words to say to this man, and may even tell him on your behalf, depending on how you decide to handle the situation.
Post # 8
Loudly tell him “let go” or to “get your hands off me”. I’ve had to do this before at an offsite work event where a guy was intoxicated and kept grabbing my sides/waist and squeezing me and didn’t listen until I yelled at him. Sometimes they don’t think anything of it and it is an honest mistake or misunderstanding, other times there’s intent to harass and push you. Just tell him next time that you aren’t a touchy feely person and you would appreciate to not have physical contact at work. If it happens again tell your supervisor and go to HR. He needs to know it isn’t ok. I work in a male dominated field and 99% of the men are great and treat me the same as anyone. There’s only been a few times when I had to put my foot down and say no when one tried to touch me. A lot of men don’t know how uncomfortable it is because neither men or women typically touch men without being intimate with them. Men just don’t get touched outside of sex and close family hugs. So they have no understanding of why it is bothersome even if it isn’t overtly sexual in nature. Most women have been put in that position so they know what it is like.
Post # 9
I have no advice, I just wanted to let you know you are not alone and I hope to get some advice, too.
Just two weeks ago I was in a classroom with my other science teachers (12 in total) and I was helping a male coworker aged 60+ (twice my age) with a new tech tool for the classroom.
I scooted my chair next to his to have us both viewing his tiny computer and he took his left hand and placed it on my right thigh at the same time that he asked for help on some issue.
I was shocked and appalled. But I couldn’t say anything. I just finished the sentence and then he moved it and I scooted my chair away but continued to help him with the tech tool.
I haven’t been able to sit next to him at lunch or even look him in the eye since. My husband thinks it was innocent. I’m not so sure.
Post # 10
Since you’ve never said anything at all before and it may be beneficial to be polite the first time you ask him to stop… reasonable tone of voice but don’t apologize for anything. If there has to be a second time, then by all means get loud as suggested above (you can even add “I told you already…”). And if he does try to claim you’re just too sensitive or some bull, again don’t apologize just say you don’t care what his opinion is, leave you alone. Some old guys are stuck in a sexist rut of how things used to be. Give him the benefit of the doubt that he can adapt first, then light his ass on fire if he persists.
Post # 11
I find a firm “remove your hand” or “don’t touch me” said without a smile works 98% of the time. You don’t have to explain or apologise, the person touching you without permission is in the wrong.
Post # 12
Next time he touches you, brush his hand away, step away a few steps and say “don’t touch me like that, I don’t like it”. Is it possible not to be witin 5 feet of him, ever?
Post # 13
DanaWeddingGuest : I try to, but he sneaks up on me! I dread leaving my office because he is always coming up behind me. And then when I jump because he startled me, he uses that as an excuse to touch me again. I dont laugh about it, and I have given him disapproving looks, but he doesnt care. I definitely need to be verbal about it.
Also, if he sees me walking in his general direction, he will stop and smile and force me into small talk, and I just want to go to the damn restroom. Do we really have to do the whole “how are you” thing three times a day???
This is turning into a bit of a vent. I didnt realize how much he was irritating me until the other day with the near boob pinch for which I gave him a disapproving look, and he just smiled at me, and also when I walked out of my office, I saw him walking toward where I was headed, so I turned right back around without even thinking about it and waited 10 minutes to leave after I made sure he went back to his office. I realized I really dreaded being anywhere close to him.
Canmurph, you can bet your ass I am not apologizing lol.
Post # 14
catapple : This really bugs me. Does he do this when other people are around, even just one, or is it strictly when it is just the 2 of you? I was thinking, if you have a good friend at work, or even someone you trust implicitly, she/he could witness the touch, and be there when you say “Don’t touch me anymore, I don’t like it”.
Don’t even feel funny when you say it to him. If he smiles when you give him a dirty look, he knows exactly what he is doing. It is like he is playing cat and mouse with you. You could even say “Leave me alone, stay away from me” if you don’t have to be with him for work reasons.
Post # 15
Mine might not be the best advice for your situation, because I tend to go full-birch when people harass me like this, but I’ve personally had good luck with “Name, I don’t know why you think it’s appropriate to put your hands on a female [coworker] like that, but your actions are making me uncomfortable. I’m not your friend. You don’t get to (or “are not permitted to”) touch me, ever. You need to keep your hands to yourself.” Say it assertively, then go back to doing whatever it is you were doing. Don’t let him argue, and don’t let him disrupt your work, conversation, pee break, etc. If he tries, tell him you’re not willing to discuss the matter further, that these are your boundaries and he needs to respect them.