Why I’m not surprised when I hear that powerful men are fucking creeps

Look, I’m really not sure what type of image you’re supposed to use on an essay about being assaulted so here’s one where I look nice. Whatever.

A friend visited me in Montreal a few weeks ago, and the conversation came to my history with sex-related trauma and how it’s affected me in my day-to-day and in my career. He was surprised that some of the events occurred with men who were established, who regularly spoke about creating diverse workplace cultures, who seemed like allies. The reality is, that no matter what position of power they were in, the men who chose to assault me saw very little consequence. Personally, there’s an unfortunate lack of surprise when men in power abuse those around them.


I can’t remember the first time it happened. I’ve worked since I was 13 — my first job was at a donut shop. Men would come in and ask me to “spend time with them”. My bosses would laugh it off. I thought it was normal. I left that job at 15 to work as a tech associate selling and fixing computers. I was the only person in my department that wasn’t a cis dude. Nothing overtly memorable happened, but it was made clear that comments on my appearance, my love life, and my disposition were “normal”.

When I later started as a designer at a startup, one of the other designers became a problem. Comments on my body hair, on how I didn’t smile enough, on how I was a gossip. Questions about what I liked in bed, my sexuality, whether I was dominant or submissive. I reported it, nothing was done. He had been at the company two years longer than I had, and therefore was senior to me.

“I’m sorry, that’s just the way he is. I think it’s a cultural thing. There’s nothing I can do.”

I stayed at that job. Eventually the other designer left, and things seemed to get better for a while. I got used to my skills being minimized. I got used to the inappropriate comments made when we’d drink beer on Fridays. It seemed normal to me. I didn’t have anyone telling me it wasn’t.

The company I worked for would go golfing on the 4th of July every year. Afterwards, we’d go out for drinks or to an after party of some sorts. The second year I participated in the event, it was a particularly hot day. Beer was being served almost hourly on a golf cart full of ice buckets. I was 22 and there was free beer. I was drunk before dusk. Most of us were.

When we were done golfing, we decided to go to a country bar and dance. There were about 10 of us that went. At this point, I was well past the point where I was in full control. We kept drinking. I went to dance with my colleagues. Soon, I felt myself pulled over by the male dev that I’d been working with on a project for the past few months. I felt safe enough and kept dancing with him. Then, I felt him insert his hand through the waistband of my shorts. I didn’t know what to do. I said that I wanted to leave. My phone was dead, so I asked someone to call a cab. The male dev who had assaulted me quickly interjected and said he’d get me home safely. I didn’t know what to do. I got in the cab. He took me to his house.

I was either too drunk to remember, or I’ve blocked out what happened. But I woke up the next morning sore in ways I never knew I could be sore. There was blood on the wall. A mirror was smashed. I hurried out and my then-boyfriend picked me up.

“What happened?”

I was silent.

“Eden, what happened?”

Still silent. This went on for a few hours until finally:

“He raped me.”

I spoke to a friend that I worked with about it. He brushed it off.

“You’re already in shaky territory from reporting the designer. People see you as someone who creates drama. He’s a developer, you’re a designer. You’re disposable. Don’t report it.”

I didn’t, and I kept working with the man who raped me for a year and a half.


When I finally found a new job, I was so excited. The company was based in the states, and as a young Canadian web developer I had hoped that at some point I’d move below the border for a little while. It felt like a job that I didn’t deserve. I felt like I had jumped 30 steps in my career in one quick swoop.

My first few days were spent at a corporate retreat. I loved all the coworkers I met. I felt like I had finally found my place. I did work that I was proud of. On the second day, I had a few drinks with my supervisor while we were working out a coding issue I was having. Eventually we were just drinking. Then he kissed me.

I didn’t know what to do, again. He was being nice enough that I figured I could put up with it. I didn’t want to lose this job. He was my direct supervisor.

“You can’t tell anyone about this. I’m married. I’m established at this company. It would ruin both of our lives.”

He proceeded to want to hang out with me in my hotel room throughout the week that I was in the states. He told me he loved me. He’d make remarks at work during the day to remind me that we had slept together.

Luckily, I went back to Canada pretty quickly and thought he’d forget about me. He didn’t. My boyfriend found out about what happened because my supervisor was constantly texting me. My boyfriend and I broke up for this and other reasons.

I moved into a basement apartment. My mental health dwindled through the winter. I was alone, working remotely. I was dealing with this and other trauma silently. After a year, I attempted suicide.

A week later I returned to America for another corporate retreat. He initiated it again. I felt helpless. I didn’t know what to do again. I was no longer on his team but he was still (and is still) a well-respected employee at that company. I ran away from him and hid in a bush. He found me, soberly stated “We’re all broken” and then proceeded to kiss me again.


Later that weekend, all of my colleagues had attended a party and were headed in a convoy of Ubers to go get something to eat. I was in the back seat, in the middle. To my left was my coworker and friend. In the front, the head of my department. To my right, one of the company’s VPs.

We drove towards our destination and suddenly I felt the VP caress my hand. And then my arm. And then suddenly, in the dark corner of the car, he was kissing my neck. I grabbed his hand and held it down, worried he would try to go further with it. My coworker and my boss were unaware.

I was fired a month later due to lack of productivity. No longer fearful of losing my job, I reached out to a few of the people I had worked with. I reported what had happened with the VP. A year later, I found out that an investigation had been done. That he had multiple victims within the company. That his punishment was being told he could not drink at corporate events any longer. He had too many shares in the company. There was nothing they could do*.

A few weeks later they tweeted photos of him sitting on a panel about diversity in the workplace and corporate culture.


Not once were real consequences doled out to any of the men who assaulted me. There were no consequences for the man with the same job title as me, who had happened to work that job two years longer than I had. Consequences weren’t given to the man who started two years after I had, because his job title was seen as superior to mine. Consequences weren’t given to my supervisor, because I was too afraid of being fired and didn’t feel like I was able to report him. Consequences weren’t given to the VP, because he was in too high of a position of power.

We ask ourselves how men rise to the top of the corporate ladder despite despicable behaviour like this; but it’s quite simple. More frequently than not, victims are offered a long list of potential consequences against speaking out — rather than empowerment and justice. More frequently than not, victims are ignored completely. More frequently than not, when victims do speak out and aren’t ignored there are severe repercussions. I’m still scared of the repercussions, which is why I’m not naming names right now. I’m still listing those consequences in my head. But I’m so tired of keeping quiet.

*After posting this, I received a phone call from the company I was working with at the time. My report didn’t make it into the right hands, and it has now. “Having too many shares” was a reasoning given to me by a third party — a friend that worked at the company but that wasn’t part of the conversation. I don’t want to go into more detail right now, but I’d like to apologize for lacking the full facts. Thank you.