In the wake of the “Me Too” movement and the downfall of Harvey Weinstein, sexual harassment is the top item in the news once again.
It is incredibly disturbing that women still have to fight to be treated as human beings rather than objects. Lately, more and more victims of sexual harassment and abuse have reached their boiling points and are choosing to speak out.
Emily Houser is one of these women who has chosen to share her story in hopes of making a change. At just 16, she endured sexual harassment from her manager at work for two years. When she finally felt able to report her abuser, his response proves why so many women are afraid to speak up and choose to suffer in silence.
When Houser started working at at Chili’s in Whitehall, Pennsylvania, she claims her manager, Josh Davidson, who was 24 at the time, took a strong and uncomfortable liking to her. He would show up at her house or at school, bring her gifts, and flirted with her on a regular basis.
“[The] new manager found particular interest in me and began forcing me to go on dates with him. He would just show up to my house uninvited and say he was outside and I had to come with him.”
Davidson attempted to pursue an unwanted relationship with Houser for two years. Houser says she felt very uncomfortable, particularly when she received gifts of large sums of money. She didn’t know what Davidson expected from her in exchange for them.
“In August, the last time he showed up to my house around 2:30 in the morning, he gave me a card with hundreds of dollars in it, to which I gave it back and kind of told him to just really back off of me, because I was so obviously not interested in him and did not want to be with him.”
When Houser rejected his advance, she claims that Davidson started “being verbally and even physically weird and abusive” towards her at work. Houser initially was unsure of what to do and brushed it off, hoping Davidson’s aggression would fizzle out.
The tipping point came when Davidson started pursuing another young girl at their work. Houser felt that although she came out the the situation okay, she didn’t know how another girl would feel.
It was at this point that Houser decided to leave her job at Chili’s and contact their headquarters to make an official complaint. Chili’s officials did conduct an investigation, but did not fire Davidson.