I don't think i can be around this co-worker anymore.

by fulitarn fulitarn, BSN, RN Member

Specializes in Developmental Care.

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brandy1017, ASN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care. 2,709 Posts

Saying and doing nothing when unwanted contact occurs looks like giving permission. If you have a problem with telling people to get their hands off you, then get whatever therapy is required to turn you into a person who can deal with situations as needed. Because if you refuse to do that, the price is what the OP is going through right now.

We commonly hear of the fight or flight response to fear or stress but that is not the only response, sometimes someone can freeze just like a deer in the headlights or a rabbit that freezes hoping the person ignores them. It isn't a conscious decision it is an unconscious reaction to a situation that was a trigger to her. If you have read anything about PTSD you would understand this.

That said he probably had no idea that he frightened her and was probably shocked that she went to HR rather than just tell him to knock it off. My first response was just tell him to knock it off too or it's inappropriate or you're not interested, rather than get management involved if this is a one-off, but why did he feel entitled to do what he did in the first place?

Personally I think she was overreacting because of her past history and now because of this history is having problems working with him. Since she avoided a direct conversation with him and escalated things to management things will be awkward even if there wasn't a past abuse history. I think she should speak to him to steer clear and she wants her personal space maintained. I don't know if she should disclose her past abuse history, that is personal and a touchy subject and I think that is up to her how to proceed. Therapy may be beneficial for her as well.

Edited by brandy1017

Aunt Slappy

Aunt Slappy

Specializes in hospice, LTC, public health, occupational health. Has 2 years experience. 271 Posts

And I can't tell if he's a clueless fool trying to flirt, or a predator grooming her to be a victim by testing boundaries and her responses to them being violated. Unfortunately either is possible.

hawaiicarl, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical care. Has 28 years experience. 327 Posts

Aunt Slappy is now my favorite advocate! "Get your hands the **** off me." I want a T-shirt with that on it, and I am going to give it for Xmas to all my daughters.


Edited by dianah
Terms of Service re: posting profanity


DisneyNurseGal, BSN, RN

Has 8 years experience. 568 Posts

My advice is to stop being so passive! Why did you "freeze" instead of saying, "Get your hands the **** off me?!" At the computer, you say you wanted to run, but you didn't. You sat there. Why? You're giving him all the power. He can feel it and he relishes it. STOP DOING THAT. When he came up to you again after being counseled, you should have firmly said, "Get away from me right now," and then moved to where other people were present.

Don't victim blame. Just because the OP did not have the response you think she should have had doesn't change anything, in fact can make a person feel worse about themselves. A person can not calculate or premeditate how they will react under any circumstance, let alone someone with a history of anxiety, assault and PTSD. Also, behavior can not be changed with snap of her fingers... "oh yes... why didn't I think of that... just stop doing that". It doesn't work that way.

My advice to the OP would be to have a conversation with him and your manager (or HR) to establish boundaries and what behavior you would find acceptable. In addition, I am not sure if your company has EAP (free counseling for employees) or something similar, but I think you should talk to someone, as this incident has likely brought up some old feelings. Good luck to you my friend. HUGS

MunoRN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 10 years experience. 8,058 Posts

As a guy, I can say that this is way beyond any sort of innocent flirting behavior or just a misinterpretation, engaging in an uninvited backrub in a storeroom is deserving of HR involvement at the very least, not just manager involvement.

Tell him you are uncomfortable with his behavior and it needs to stop. I feel you were in shock when it happened and now you think he feels you okayed it ,so you are blaming yourself. Don't. Stand up for yourself now.

Edited by Workitinurfava


Night__Owl, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU and Dialysis. Has 3 years experience. 93 Posts

Whether it was nefariously intended, he mistakenly thought you might be interested in him and flirt, or he's just clueless doesn't matter. The proper response is the same either way.

Let him know calmly and directly that you aren't comfortable being touched. Then go on as usual, and if he crosses this boundary (in a way such as offering a back rub again) go straight to your manager.

Leader25, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in NICU. Has 39 years experience. 1,295 Posts

well do not punch him.......yet.They will fire you.

Address your issue at a meeting with mgr and him,if you are union have a rep there.Straighten him out before you both lose your jobs. Good luck.

No body puts their hands on you .

brillohead, ADN, RN

Specializes in Cardio-Pulmonary; Med-Surg; Private Duty. Has 5 years experience. 1,781 Posts

The initial encounter was on him and has already been handled.

The OP has her own issues about being around the dude, and that's on her to fix. If she wants him to just never be near her or talk to her unless it's strictly about work related issues, then she needs to tell him that. (Send him an email if you're too scared to talk to his face.) He doesn't know that talking to you is too traumatic for you unless you tell him that -- you can't just assume that he knows to not talk to you at all, nor can you accuse him of being a sexual predator for talking to you at the nursing station. You have to actually tell him.

I would also recommend more therapy, as it appears there are still issues causing the OP stress / anxiety.

Luchador, CNA, EMT-B

Has 5 years experience. 286 Posts

Report this creep to HR. Seriously. Coming at you in a secluded closet? Yikes. Report this creep to HR

Aunt Slappy

Aunt Slappy

Specializes in hospice, LTC, public health, occupational health. Has 2 years experience. 271 Posts

Tell him you are uncomfortable with his behavior and it needs to stop. I feel you were in shock when it happened and now you think he feels you okayed it ,so you are blaming yourself. Don't. Stand up for yourself now.

No, don't say "uncomfortable." That's a wiggle word women use to seem less aggressive so that people won't form negative opinions of them.

Tell this guy, and HR, directly with no words minced that he has no right to put his hands on you and no business doing so in the workplace or anywhere else without your explicit invitation. Also tell them that if he does so again now that he has been told not to, that HR will no longer be anyone's concern and you'll be calling the police to file sexual assault charges against him. The more I think about that storage closet backrub, the more creeped out I am.

Daisy Joyce

264 Posts

Unless I'm missing something, he backrubbed you, you went to HR to correct it, then he looked over your shoulder to see a computer screen. Was he touching you or the chair? Was it a work computer or your own? The way you describe the event, I don't think he did anything wrong to just look at a computer screen.

One of the problems with coming out of an abusive or dysfunctional family is that we no longer have a good idea of what is "normal", and what's not. And then when placed in a stressful situation, or one that resembles something from our childhood, we might either overreact or underreact.

Which is why it's good to reality check with other people.

But no, my first impression is that he crossed a line the first time, but not the second. (I'm keeping my mind open that I might be wrong)