My Name is Julie

My name is Julie.

I am privileged to be a Professor and in a position where my anonymity isn’t a problem. I absolutely understand why so many people need to hide their identities – the system easily penalizes victims while protecting harassers.

I was sexually harassed for most of my career. Oddly, the harassment didn’t occur at every institution and is by far the worst at my current institution. I have been harassed outside of academia as well –  the ickiest was perhaps the neighbor who casually reached out and grabbed my breast. Within academia, I have been physically assaulted, had senior faculty come on to me – particularly out in the field -, endured countless sexist and sexual jokes, and had more people stare at my breasts than I care to count. I very rarely wear dresses anymore because of the unwanted groping.

Woman with long brown hair in graduation robes
This is Julie at a student’s PhD graduation.

My worst moment: I was a newly minted Associate Professor. An emeritus professor came up behind me at a public retirement party on campus, bent his knees, and humped me. And, yes, I was wearing a dress. This happened in front of other people and the response was about what you would expect. No one jumped in to rescue me, and no one seemed to have realized that I had just been assaulted. I was barely able to tell my therapist about the assault – sobbing the entire time over the phone. I was paralyzed for days, made even worse when my harasser came into my lab and put his arm around me – a gesture that had never occurred before. For several years, very few people knew what had happened to me. When I was promoted to Professor, I felt more able to speak about what happened. I first wrote a few sentences in a blog post describing the incident although it took me days to post. Eventually, I filed a Title IX complaint. The process is awful – I cannot express strongly enough how stressful and triggering the investigative process can be, and the lack of any emotional support is a very real problem with the system. The investigation clearly documented that the sexual harassment was real and physical.

I have given up on: Convincing my department head that saying my harasser’s name in front of me or writing emails to me that contain his name is absolutely triggering, unacceptable, and unnecessary.

I’m afraid: That my harasser will show up at my home. He has already come by twice and tried to speak to me when I happened to be in the yard. I filed police reports both times, but they can only ask him not to talk to me.

This has cost me: Hours and hours and hours of therapy, sleepless nights, probably several papers and grants because my mind was occupied with processing a trauma. I am still waiting to see what else this event and the complaint may cost me professionally.

Something you should know about me: I really like data, I want to see all of my students succeed, and I find unethical behavior on the part of my colleagues absolutely grating. I also have two dogs, two cats, and a tortoise.

My fight song: Is there a song out there called “Please Just Leave Me Alone, Already?”

My secret weapon: Therapy, my spouse, cuddles with my kid and pets, and social media. Feel free to ping me on twitter (@geoedresearch) and here’s my blog: https://geocognitionresearchlaboratory.wordpress.com