The one who thought I would ”fit the profile”

A MEP, his assistant and his intern approached me and my friend one Thursday at Place Luxembourg (Plux). After introducing themselves, they asked if we wanted an internship at their office because we had “the profile they were looking for”.

When I asked what such profile was, they just stared at my breasts and my skirt and smiled. Informal workspaces are also places where sexual harassment can occure!

The time he sent out inappropriate suggestions late at night

A MEP with a prominent position within my political group has been contacting female staff members on their private social media profiles on numerous occasions making inappropriate suggestions late at night. Furthermore he uses his position to make contact with female trainees, and later on taking them out for dinner. It is more than obvious that this prominent figure has misused the power gap for his advantage for years. Victims of such behaviour, specially the trainees, are often not in the position to recognize such misbehaviour at first glance.

The time I got gym stimulation

I’m a lawyer-linguist from a Nordic country and like to keep myself healthy fit through doing various sports, such as barre, trekking and krav maga. However, having a good body is not an open invitation for me to o stare at my body when in the gym or in collective classes. (It is often middle-aged men who clearly have decided they somehow have the right to observe women in this fashion, and then simulate taking part in some activities just to be able to do so (it’s clear that they are not there for the sports)). I’m now searching for a female-only gym.

The time I was at lunch

I was at the entrance of the canteen of my building with a colleague one day. It was 12:00 o’clock, there was no one around yet. Just me and my colleague chatting before entering the canteen. A man approached and physically pushed me aside just to reach the compartmental waste bin to throw his chewing gum. I asked him why he thought it was necessary to push me. He then verbally assaulted me by telling me that I didn’t know how to behave like a lady, that I was just a cunt. I was in shock, and I proceeded to ask him what kind of language was he using. He answered: You heard me. For two weeks I was afraid to go eat in my canteen in the SQM building. And I finally only got an appointment with the psychologist at the EP Medical service one month later. The man is still around, sometimes staring aggressively at me. I’m not even sure if this is a harassment or not, but I find it disturbing that he still looks at me through his forehead and shakes his head as if I was a piece of shit to be thrown that can be thrown in the waste bin.

The Time the elevator stopped

It happened during the peak of the #metoo debate: I stepped inside an elevator in the ASP building which was full. A young man wearing a suit stepped in, walked past me and then brushed my hair. I initially thought he might have caught my hair accidently. At the next floor, all the people leave the elevator and I am left alone with the man. He smiles at me, steps closer to me and says: “Don’t worry, I don’t harm women, not even beautiful ones.” A little startled, I uttered an ironic “well, that’s good to know.” To which he replies: “you never know as a man these days, I could get arrested for touching a woman.”

The Time I received an unwanted hug

During my first week of my internship at the European Parliament, I was warned that a certain MEP (also known as a head of a religious organisation) is a ‘”harasser” and that I should try to avoid being alone with him.

Sometime later, I was chatting with another intern in my mother tongue in the elevator. Suddenly the MEP that I had been warned about entered the elevator. He looked at me and  wanted to know who I am, who I work for and chatted me up in other ways. Before I could leave the elevator, he gave me a hug without asking for my permission.

He was later fired from the position at his church for repeated sexually inappropriate behaviour.

The one who spread fake stories

I have been working in this institution for 2 years now. I started as an intern in a political group. This was my first ‘serious’ position, but I had no friends inside or outside the institution in this city. A man working for my group approach me and started talking with me. I thought ‘Great! A nice person inside this huge place’. After some time I noticed, he wanted something more, so I introduce him to my boyfriend in order to get him to stop making a move on me.

A year later, two colleagues ask me if I have had sex with the same man working for our group. Apparently, he had told half of the group about a ‘secret sexual relation’ between us. Never ever had this happened between us. I told him to stop spreading lies about me, and ever since, he has not helped me with a file. Looks like he only works with girls that accept his fake sex stories.

The one who wanted to show off his dance moves

A couple of months ago, me and my colleagues were having a drink at our own office. After a few drinks, my colleague started to make flirty remarks. At first, I did not take much notice of it. However, when the evening turned into night and after a few more drinks, he started to dance around me. He even tried to hump me, and he obviously got somewhat aroused.

I felt very uncomfortable, and had to push him away. Still, he did not get the message, so I had to defend myself and tried to push him away. Finally, he took off. The next day he pretended as if nothing happened. This encounter left me with a deep sense of unease, and I am still dealing with these feelings up to this day.

The time he invited himself in

I joined the EU institutions at the age of 22. My first boss was an over 50 year old French male. He immediately created a flirtatious, joking atmosphere. He paid special attention to me, winking at me in unit meetings, making compliments in French to which I did not even have the language skills to reply, and commented on my legs. I thought this meant I was performing well, that this was harmless, and part and parcel of having a French boss.

One evening after work a fellow intern and myself were having a drink on a terrace. My boss spotted us and joined us. We felt flattered that someone of his status would want to get to know us better. He insisted on ordering several bottles of wine. We became inebriated. We wanted to take taxis home but he insisted on driving us himself despite having consumed a dangerous amount of alcohol himself.

He dropped my fellow intern off first. Once we were left alone in the car, he put his hand on my thigh, and kissed me. He said we should go inside my house so that no one sees us. He followed me in. I vaguely remember feeling ashamed. Inside he sexually assaulted me.

No was not an option.

The next morning he texted “nice tasting” to me and proposed to take me on a holiday which I refused. He continued messaging me and proposing sex on subsequent work missions, making humiliating jokes in front of the rest of the team. The other (male) colleagues always laughed which encouraged him on. Over the years I have learnt to smile less, to call out inappropriate behaviour, and to name what is happening.

But I never reported this first case of abuse because I believed it was my fault.

Since then he has been promoted to Director and is currently in charge of high profile files.