Testimony #34

“I was sexually harassed by a male colleague for almost a year. I wasn't planning to tell anyone about it - I have experience with Title IX, and that experience told me that reporting would only make my life even more miserable. I would be the one to pay the price, again. Institutions protect institutions, not their members.

One evening, out with a friend, I broke down, and told this friend some details about what had been occurring. While this conversation happened off campus, in a situation I thought was friendly and supportive, this friend reported the situation to my superiors, which felt like a huge betrayal. Immediately, the situation was out of my control. I was no longer making the decisions. My power was once again taken away from me - this time, not by the perpetrator of this form of sexual violence, but by the system supposedly designed to support me.

After that initial reporting, the situation spiraled out of control. Correct procedures were not followed. I was asked to sit down, one on one, with the perpetrator, and "talk things through" - I was even told that I should be careful to protect his feelings, since apparently, he was "sensitive" and had caused problems before. Eventually, the situation was brought to the attention of Princeton's Title IX officer, though at that point, it was done to protect the University's interests rather than my own - the individual who reported to Title IX was worried that I would have grounds to sue the University. The concern was not for my own safety or wellbeing.

Because of the handling of this situation - and I want to be absolutely clear about that, that in this particular case it was the HANDLING of the situation, rather than the situation itself that made me feel completely powerless - my professional life changed dramatically. My relationships with my superiors were damaged. My relationships with colleagues - who all found out - were also irrevocably damaged. I became "that woman" - too sensitive, too emotional, not part of the group, alienated, excluded, no longer "fun" or collegial. My life and work at Princeton have never been the same. I went from feeling strong and confident about my work, to feeling like everyone hated me, thought badly of me, thought I was a problem. I've never recovered.

I have never told this story publicly. I am grateful to Princeton IX Now for their courage and leadership - thank you for inspiring me to finally speak out. Thank you for helping me to finally re-take control. Thank you for hearing my voice.”

— Anonymous Princeton Faculty Member