Women Lead Pendidikan Seks
October 14, 2015

What To Do When Your Client Harasses You

In this edition of Ask Madge, a distressed woman asked what she should do after having been harassed by her client.

by Magdalene

Dear Madge,
I urgently need your help, and I really hope that you won't mind replying my email (at least) before the date 19th October.
I recently went out clubbing with colleagues. At fist I hesitated to go, but since one of them said that she just broke up with her bf in the morning, I decided to go to comfort her. These colleagues were my clients, who are pretty good friends with me. They're cool people who work at one of the most prestigious restaurant in Bali. I wrote for them a couple of time, I highlighted the restaurant in mass media many times, I even wrote about one of the founders of this restaurant for a national newspaper. 
In this club we met their boss, the other founder. He bought us drinks, and a couple of time he asked me to dance. But when I looked at my friends' expression, they didn't seem comfortable being around their boss. So I rejected him politely. 
Long story short, my friend got involved in a
drama with her ex, and I was accompanied by the other friend. After several dances, their boss asked me to dance again. This time I just took his offer, since I was in a dancing mood. But in less than 10 minutes he did something that surprised me: he grabbed my butt. I was shocked. 

I was so tempted to slap him, but I didnt want to put my friend in trouble because he is her boss. So I just pointed a finger (not the middle one) at him and asked my friend to go home. I was so shocked and I felt disappointed because it came from my client, though I never dealt with him in person. But I regretted so much that I didn’t slap him because the anger is sitting deep within me. 
Deep down I felt humiliated, and disappointed because I really like the restaurant and the other people, including one of the founders whom I have so much respect for. I had so many plans in mind to make him a source for my future writings, but now I feel disgusted whenever I think about this restaurant. I cannot accept this sexual harassment, and even sadder is that I feel that it ruins all future possibilities, because now I don’t even want to step into that restaurant ever again.
The next day my friend apologized to me for the incident, and she told me her boss sent me his apologies, but I told my friend he should’ve apologized to me in person. So my friend invited me to come to this restaurant's anniversary on 19th, and she promised she would get her boss apologize to me. I felt wrong to come to this restaurant, but she really begs me to come for her and her friend. 
My question is: is it wrong or right what I feel? If I shouldn’t feel this way, what makes it wrong? Should I go to that restaurant or not for the anniversary? If I go, and that guy apologizes to me, what should I say back to him (because I have lots of words I want to speak, but I don't want to belittle him in his own restaurant in front of many people).
Please help me as soon as possible because the party is coming soon, and thank you very much for your kind advice!
Dear Petal,
First of all, you are not wrong in being angry about the harassment. Your friend’s boss knew what he was doing when he grabbed your butt. It wasn’t some temporary insanity. He was merely testing the water. He had probably done this many times and gotten away with it because of his position. That probably explains why your friends were uncomfortable with him around to begin. with.
But you did not know that, so you are not to blame for accepting to dance with a guy who would turn out to be a creep. Never ever blame yourself for the wrongdoings of others. And the fact that he apologized through your friend is a blatant display of his callousness; it showed that he thought nothing of what he did. He could’ve just picked up the phone and called you to apologize, instead of sending his staff to do that. What could be more cowardly than that?
That said, this is what I strongly suggest: DO NOT go to that anniversary party. What could he possibly do at this party – if he meant to apologize and rectify the situation – that he couldn’t have done immediately that night or the next day over the phone? It’s just another power play: he wants to show you who’s the boss, who’s in power. By coming to his “lair” in order to “receive” (and presumably accept) his apologies, you’re just submitting to this power play.
I say, fuck him! In better countries with laws that really protect victims of harassment, you could actually sue him or at least threaten to do so, instead of doubting yourself and questioning your own feelings.
Seriously, your days of working with his restaurant – even hanging out with your friend (who should’ve warned you about him and who shouldn’t have in any way defended him or justified what he did – if she were truly your friend) – are over. Forget them all. Find another client.
Got a burning question about something? Send it to [email protected] -- in English or Indonesian -- with the subject "Ask Madge" or tweet your question to @the_magdalene