Hey everyone! You are listening to a very special bonus episode A Cup of Code Podcast. Here in this episode, before we kick off Season 2, I want to talk about something that has been on my heart for awhile…harassment and abuse in the workplace. It’s a really rough topic to address and can be approached in many ways. I have a few things to share here on this topic. But before we get started, If you are suffering today, I want you to know that there are people out there who really care, who have devoted their lives and resources to helping many in abusive circumstances. I want you to know there is hope and help for you. You are worthy, you are precious and you are totally wonderful. You are worth caring about. You are worth helping. With that said, I know it’s scary and I know it seems like nothing will ever change and I know you feel angry and terrified and so so down ~ so many emotions. I know something of how it feels to be in your shoes. So today just for you, I’ll be sharing tips and resources to get you help if you are a woman who is facing abuse or harassment.
It is important to me that women know how to protect themselves and how to get out of a bad situation where necessary. It is my hope and prayer to be able to encourage those of you who may be facing these hard things, whether at home, or in the workplace or in a relationship, and to offer you some hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel. There is so much written, spoken and shared on this topic I know. I’m adding my voice to the mix to empower you, to hold you in my heart and to pray for you that you find your voice, and find a way to feel free to move on in the right direction for you. You are not suffering alone and there are those of us out here who understand. While as a woman, I’m specifically speaking to women in this podcast, it is horrible that 1 in 5 reports of harassment in the work place come from men. I realize this effects men as well. So if this podcast helps you, I’m grateful. The statistics are mind boggling. Once such statistic states that 75% of women have been harassed in the workplace at one point in their lifetime. There are many more statistics and I don’t want any of us to just be another statistic. I want us to be able to stay strong and protect ourselves in the face of harassment and abuse.
I took some extra time in preparing for this special bonus episode and I want to dedicate this episode to all the women especially who are facing harassment and abuse in the workplace and in the tech industry. My goal in speaking to this subject in this bonus episode of A Cup of Code Podcast is to encourage each person facing harassment and abuse to get help, report the abuse and take advantage of the many resources available to you for your safety, self respect, sanity, for your healing and recovery. As I said, this is something that has been on my heart for a long time. Of course, it is no secret to those of you listening that this is a female voice behind this microphone. As a woman and a woman in the tech industry, I hope to encourage those of you listening to be strong, be persistent in doing what’s right for yourself, and there is hope and light on the other side. This should never happen to anyone. But if you have gone through abuse or harassment or are going through this now, it is my hope that you will find resources through this podcast that will help you.
With that said, harassment and abuse can take on many forms…it can range from daily harassment or attacks on a persons character, to verbal abuse, sexual harassment and unwanted advances. But in this podcast, I don’t want to dwell on specific instances because honestly, it would be too much to go over here. Rather, I think it is most important that I share resources on where and how to get help and protect yourself….if you or someone you love has found yourself in one of these situations. Now, I know that if you are experiencing sexual harassment, bullying or abuse, you as the victim are afraid to stand up for yourself. Or you are afraid that there could be serious consequences for taking any action against the perpetrator, on top of what you are already going through. However, that one decision to take action to protect yourself may be that one thing that saves your very life.
If you are someone who is experiencing domestic violence, you can visit thehotline.org and live chat with someone who can help you or you can call their anonymous phone number at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Or if you are experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace, visit rainn.org or call their number at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). For those of you who have gone to human resources at your job and have not received any help, stay persistent in reporting the abuse, report those who aren’t listening to higher ups and look for other work if necessary. Have courage and say no to the fear where you can. Each of us are in a different place in this journey. Do whatever you have to do to regain yourself, your self respect, your dignity, your sanity and your safety.
I also feel that it is important as women that we have practical tools and tips that enable us to protect ourselves as we go about our daily lives. There is nothing more freeing and empowering than knowing how to protect yourself. Here are some of my favorites that I hope you will find helpful:
1. Get a dog if you are able. I have two. Dogs are such special animals who will not only deter a predator, but they love you and will be your companion. When you’ve been made to feel like nothing, your dog will always be happy to see you and pour their love out on you every time you come home, giving you someone to look forward to seeing daily that will never hurt you. I love my dogs and I am never without one of them. While I have more than one dog just because I love having them, having one dog to be your companion is more than enough. My dogs alert me to danger, bark if they feel necessary, and are always right by my side. I don’t ever tell them no when they are barking because it is the only way they have to sound an alarm to danger.
2. Have your phone and/or smart watch always on you – Don’t leave your house or do anything without having your phone or smart watch on you. These devices have features that enable you to call emergency services quickly and easily if you are in an danger. Familiarize yourself with your phone/watch or ask for help from someone who knows the technology, to ensure you know how to maximize these features and how to readily share your information or location with emergency services.
3. Keep pepper spray on you at all times – Pepper spray is a great way to deter an attacker. It is a non-lethal way to protect yourself and when administered on an attacker, you can run to safety. This can also be kept on your person very discreetly. It is a tool that could save your life.
4. Take a self-defense class – ask your local mixed martial arts teacher to help you with self-defense techniques. A lot of women take mixed martial arts classes to make them feel more confident about protecting themselves. I have taken a self-defense class and honestly, I have not ever forgotten it. The class made me feel more confident and less afraid. These techniques gave me real, practical ways that I could easily overpower someone and defend myself. Our teachers were women who knew their stuff. Not surprisingly, the men in the studio for their class, really got on board and started encouraging us and helping us with all the new knowledge and techniques we were being given. It was incredibly empowering. It really showed us that there were good men who would stand up for us. They all have mothers, sisters, wives/girlfriends and daughters. You could see the fire in their eyes as they helped us practice our techniques. I walked away from that class feeling overwhelmed with gratefulness for all who were willing to teach and us and practice our new skills with us. I have so much for respect for those who cared to help. It was an amazing experience to say the least.
5. Keep in touch with people you know and trust – staying in touch is one of the best pieces of advice that I could give to any woman. Keep a circle of two or three people that are close to you, who know where you are at any given point in the day, who you communicate with often, and even those who know your schedule (like when you leave for work, or when you are expected to be home) so that they can alert proper authorities if something isn’t right. If I am traveling somewhere, even locally, I’ll use my navigational app to share my location with my people in my safety circle, so that they know when I arrive at my destination. I’ll also give them a simple text or phone call as well to let them know if I am safe or if I need help. This communication gives us all peace of mind. These people know my habits and where I am expected to be so that if anything were to go wrong, they would know to call the police and get me help if that were to be necessary.
6. Speaking of schedules: Change your schedule up – throw in some changes each day. If your habit is to leave at the same time each day, taking the same route, stopping at the same coffee shop before work and stopping for fuel at the same gas station at the same time everyday, or if shopping after work at the same place and time everyday is how you do life…... Changing your schedule where you can and being less predictable is one of the best ways to throw a predator off your trail. If you suspect someone is watching you or your schedule, change it up a bit and see if this helps. Changing your schedule may feel like a terrible inconvenience to you at first. But it makes you not as ‘trackable’ to someone who is trying to intimidate you or follow you. And if necessary, don’t give out information on where you work or what your plans are for the day.
7. The Buddy system: The buddy system is another great way to deter a predator. Have a friend or a family member or someone you can trust to be with you where you can….whether you’re walking home, or grocery shopping, or stopping to get a coffee. Maybe have someone who is willing to pick you up from work to make sure you are safe. This will not only make you feel more secure because someone is there with you, but also it will deter someone who is watching you. Predators don’t want to commit their crimes when there is someone else there protecting the victim. They wish to commit their crimes when the victim is alone. This is why using the buddy system is so great. Not only do you have a protective and comforting friend or family member with you but you have a witness to what is going on who can vouch for you in these very trying circumstances.
In conclusion, I sincerely hope that those of you listening will find something in this bonus episode that gives you hope, gives you confidence and encourages you to stay strong and to protect yourself. I will also publish this list of tips on Instagram at acupofcodepodcast and on my blog at www.studio27works.com/blog. If any of you ladies have tips that you practice to stay safe when you are alone, please feel free to comment on Instagram or mention A Cup of Code Podcast on twitter and we may retweet your comments and add them to our Instagram stories! Until next month, I hope you all have a blessed week and keep on coding!