Sexual assault in the mortgage industry: an open letter

"Recent events have stirred it all up. I wake up in the middle of the night screaming"

Sexual assault in the mortgage industry: an open letter

The following is an open letter sent to Mortgage Broker News by a member of the Canadian mortgage industry. That person chose to remain anonymous. The events recounted here, and the statements made, are that person’s account of events and not reflective of any statements or allegations being made by Mortgage Broker News, Canadian Mortgage Professional, or Key Media International.

Recently, some claims have been brought to light about the systemic bullying, sexism and harassment that permeate our industry.  

Reading the accounts has been horrifying. They happened to colleagues, friends and yes, #metoo. One well-known individual has hugged me, kissed me, pulled me on his lap.

When the last incident happened, I simply got up and with a smile on my face, looked him directly in the eye and calmly said, “Don’t do that.” He never bothered me again. This behaviour is so “normalized” that I did not consider it harassment.

I have been in the industry for a long time now. You most likely know me. I have worked for lenders and brokers alike. I have been grabbed, fondled, and propositioned more times than I care to remember by several men, but I took all of that in stride.

At events, I am known to “ghost”. As soon as the booze starts to flow, I say I need to run to the washroom and disappear for the night. I go to my room, lock my door, and stay safe.  

I would like to take you back to a long time ago. I was 23 years old and had my first job out of university. I was raped by a coworker. In fact, I was his supervisor. He raped me from behind, standing up with his hands tightly around my throat, choking me.

Make no mistake: rape is not an act of sexuality. It is one of violence. Back then, we dressed to the nines for work. It was a hot day and I decided to not wear stockings. All I could think of while he violated me was, “If I had worn stockings, would it have made it harder to do this? Is it my fault?”

After this, he would come up to me at work, whisper in my ear, “B*tch. C*nt. Whore. You asked for it.” He started stalking me. I went to the owner of my company and asked for his help. He replied, “…and you wonder why women don’t get ahead in the workforce.”

I thought I was over this. I am strong and got help a long time ago, but these recent events have stirred it all up. I wake up in the middle of the night now screaming from very realistic nightmares.

I never named my rapist. I never had him charged. I needed the job to pay my rent, so I felt I had no choice. There was a recession at the time and jobs were scarce. 

And now I wonder how many other women he hurt.