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Jennifer Stallman2021-02-25 14:31:412021-02-25 14:46:19My Close Call
I just finished watching the Apple TV series The Morning Show starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carrell. The main premise of the show is about a man abusing his position of power for his own sexual gain. Almost like the fictional version of the Matt Lauer story.
While I was reflecting on the series in the shower last night, I realized, somewhat shockingly, that I have a few of my own unnerving stories to share.
Back when I was 17, I worked at a Jewish camp in Michigan. I spent two summers there as a counsellor and I loved it. I made friends from all over the world. It was a fun experience but there was one experience in particular that I had suppressed.
The camp was massive in size so counsellors would be happy if head staff would give them a lift around camp in their golf carts. There was a director, who I will keep anonymous, who was always overly friendly with me. He was approximately 30 years old and I was 17.
One night, my friend and I were taking a long walk back to our cabin and this particular director offered us a lift. We happily accepted and along the way he made a very inappropriate comment to me. I can’t remember the exact comment but nonetheless I felt extremely uncomfortable. My friend also heard it and after he dropped us off we were talking about how old and gross he was.
The next night, I was walking by myself and he offered me a ride. I said okay. As we started driving he said he needed to stop by his own cabin to “get something” and asked me to come inside. I said okay but I was frightened. There was no real reason for me to come inside but I didn’t know how to say, “No thanks, I’ll wait here”. So I went inside with him and stood by the door. I knew he wasn’t allowed to bring me in his cabin, but he did. Women weren’t allowed in men’s cabins and vice versa, and he was head staff, I knew he could get in a lot of trouble. Just standing there in his cabin made me extremely uncomfortable.
It was clear there wasn’t anything he really needed in his cabin, he just used it as an excuse to get close to me. With every step he took towards me I took a step backwards, inching my way towards the door. I knew the staff curfew was fast approaching. I used that as my excuse to get him to take me to my cabin. I finally got out of there. As he was driving me back to my cabin he let me know that if I wanted to sneak out and come back that night I could. I got out of that golf cart so fast and ran inside feeling relieved to be away from him.
After that, I stayed away from him the whole summer. I was petrified of him but too scared to tell the main camp owner. This was the 90’s. There was no “me too” movement yet. I knew that if I told on him, two things could have happened; He either would have changed the story around and say I hit on him and get me fired, or he would get a slap on the wrist from the camp owner and he would have made my summer a living hell. So I kept quiet about it and buried it, until now.
I have decided not to name the camp or the director, however, if the director reads this he will know it’s about him, and that is enough for me.
I hope to share my other stories when I am comfortable. If anyone feels the need to share a story in this group I am happy to write it anonymously.