My Name is Janet.

My name is not Janet.

Screen Shot 2018-06-09 at 11.01.32 PM

“After I was harassed, my family told me that it was my fault that I was harassed: as a woman” Janet declined to provide a photo

The second semester of my junior year in college, I was looking for a research group to join for grad school. I found a group of a pretty well-known professor at the chemistry department of the top university in my home country, and contacted the professor, and he seemed interested as well. I had talked to him and his group members for a while and attended some of their group meetings and group activities. A few days into the summer before my senior year, he contacted me and asked me to come to his office so that he could discuss research I can do in his group in the summer. I went, and he locked me in his office, touched me for an extended amount of time, and tried to have sex with me. I eventually escaped, and after that, he contacted me and said at first that he normally would not take female students because “they always cause drama about me taking advantage of them”, and then, after seeing that I didn’t respond, he told me that if I were so “naive” to no cooperate with him, then there would be no way for me to work in his group. I have never responded to him or contacted anyone in his group again.Screen Shot 2018-06-09 at 10.55.55 PM

I Have Given Up On: After I was harassed, my family told me that it was my fault that I was harassed: as a woman, I shouldn’t have entered the STEM field; I shouldn’t be out there “competing with men”, but should instead marry a wealthy man to “complete me”. They told me that I should marry someone as quickly as possible now that I was “not pure” and “devalued”; and I should “think on the bright side” that someone was even willing to sexually harass me – that meant I was attractive enough as a woman. I have given up communicating with people, especially my family, that I was not the one at fault, and that the man who harassed me were not “men just being men”.

I’m Afraid: That the same thing will happen to me again, and that he will do the same thing to other women – he is still out there, not punished at all. I could not report him, because in my home country at that time, if I did, either no one would believe me, or everyone would just blame me for what he did or for not being “forgiving”.

This Has Cost Me: What happened was the reason I left my home country to attend grad school abroad – he is a well-known professor, and I cannot possibly pursue a career in chemistry without interacting with him. So basically, it had cost me all my academic career opportunities in chemistry back in my home country. It was tough to start my life all over, to learn to speak a foreign language, and to adjust to a new culture, but I survived, and at least now I can pursue my academic career in chemistry in a different country.

Something You Should Know About Me: I am super resilient and persistent. Also, despite what happened, I love my career and my life. I enjoy the moments of even the smallest achievements in my academic career, and I appreciate the cuteness of animals, the tastiness of food, the beauty of flowers…those are just a few examples of the many beautiful things I find in my career and my life, and I still think they far outweigh the negative.

Is There a Bright Side? I actually have met some amazing friends after I moved to another country for grad school. I have shared my story with a few of them, and they were all very supportive.

What’s Your Fight Song? English is not my first language, and I almost only listen to songs in my first language, so you wouldn’t know that song (or songs)…

Secret Weapon: When experiencing trauma, I am generally able to pull myself together very quickly and keep a level head, so that I can focus on finding ways to get out of the traumatic conditions (in this case, going abroad for grad school).