Earlier in my career, I was sent to LA for a work trip. After a long day of meetings, my clients and I went out to a bar, where I ran into a guy that remembered me from college. He happened to be from a very prominent family, and my clients were impressed that I knew him. We all stayed out for a bit together at the hotel bar, and then I went to my room to go to sleep. About 45 minutes later, I heard a knock on the door, and could see it was him in the doorway. I didn’t want to answer, but also didn’t want to be rude, so I tried opening it just a crack. He quickly pushed his way past me into the room and grabbed a drink from the minibar. For the next several hours, I couldn’t find a way to get him out of the room short of physical confrontation, and had to continuously say no as he made sexual advances.
How did you respond?
It was about 5am before I could get him to leave. When I went to my meetings the next morning I didn’t feel as if I could tell my co-workers (all male) what happened for fear of looking weak. I played it off and did my best to bury it until quite recently. It all came flooding back when he was highlighted in the newspaper for his business successes. I almost threw up when I saw it and handed the paper to my husband before telling him the whole story. He was shocked but I explained that, for women, it’s sadly not “if” something like this can happen but “when.”
What were your takeaways in hindsight?
That situation made me much more guarded. My general rule of thumb is to avoid putting myself in a situation where something like that could happen again. For example, I try not to drink a lot at work functions and in hindsight, I should have pretended to be asleep and not even answered the door.