I started working on this big company last February as an external consultant. I'm in an office with 3 other external consultants and we all offer a similar service for our client.
From the start, the other 3 members were told to mentor me and teach me how to interact with the company's instruments, and one of them in particular was assigned to train me. She is an older woman in her 50s so I always tended to pay more respect than usual.
Sadly, I often bite my nails when I'm nervous or when I'm overthinking something, and that's one of the reasons she started harassing me, telling me that I could not touch her desk until I was more respectful. I have no need to touch her desk and sure it is bad that I bite my nails so I tried to lessen the problem of the nails and kept distance.
But then she began to complain to me about my methods, or how I conducted my work. I even got blamed for things she taught to me. Occasionally I could demonstrate my actions were the direct result of her instructions (we have internal emails) but she dismisses the issues without even apologizing to me.
Today I had enough of it.
She arrived at work and immediately started to moan about how stinky the air was. I said hello as usual and returned to my business. She then attacked me with the following:
Her: You should be ashamed of yourself Why is that? What's the problem? Her: The problem is that you do not wash yourself. It's a form of disrespect I had a shower this morning. The problem is that you should think before accusing someone. You're the one that's disrespecting me.
Then she continued moaning and harassing me and so gave in and told her:
Yeah, you're right.
And kept going on with my business.
This is not acceptable. I can't stand her behavior. Talking to her doesn't seem to resolve the problem, she only talks to me to blame me so I have no hope of reasoning with her.
How should I defend myself? Should I report it to my manager or HR? It could be difficult since we are from 2 different companies, working for the same customer.