My previous post is here: Is my future mentor "harassing" me?

I should've trusted my instinct and rejected his mentoring. However, after talking to my friend who was his mentee, I was somehow convinced that he was the best mentor in the world.

In our second meeting in his office, he was extremely inappropriate, with examples being touching and staring at my body, smelling my hair, commenting on my bra size, asking for kisses when I didn't offer, etc. I ignored him straight away as I was terrified by how he treated me. Then he kept messaging me. I didn't read his messages and blocked him instead. Then he got really mad and sent me a long email sating how rude I was.

I decided to stand up for myself and told him how he was being creepy and unprofessional the other day. He claimed that he was just trying to help and said that I would not succeed with my attitude like that. I ended the conversation quickly.

My question is if I could've handled it in a better way. I would never use my body or put up with any harassment just to progress in my career. However now I burned all bridgets with him I wonder if i could've just rejected him in a 'polite' way. Having said that, I tried the polite way before and he wouldn't stop annoying me and convinced me to work things out.

If it helps, he is not someone who is, shall I say, important. I thought about the consequences of telling him how he was inappropriate but then I got really emotional and just wanted to stand up for myself.

  • 5
    "I decided to stand up for myself and told him how he was being creepy and unprofessional the other day" <-- Isn't this already "polite" as far as the situation is concerned? Polite doesn't mean you let yourself be abused or that you ignore inappropriate behaviour. It sounds like you stated that his behaviour was inappropriate and then terminated the relationship. That's probably the ideal in this situation.
    – Brandin
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 8:33
  • 4
    The word "creepy" is confrontational and I wouldn't say it counts as polite - although I would say that a certain amount of rudeness is justified. Without hearing his side of the story or witnessing the interaction, I hesitate to pass judgement - but from your account, I'd say you handled it in the only way possible short of formally reporting him for his inappropriate behaviour
    – Jon Story
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 10:32
  • 2
    This is not really about the workplace since you do not work with the mentor. Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 14:31
  • 9
    I don't know what country you live in, but in most Western countries if what you said in this post is true (he was inappropriately touching you, commenting on your bra size, etc asking you to kiss him after you told him to stop, etc) you should have called the police - not just casually dismissed it.... and I'm confused why your reaction is to have so much concern about him, rather than recognizing this. What am I missing?
    – enderland
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 16:59
  • While I completely understand if you'd rather keep this to yourself, could you specifying what country this happened in? As @enderland said behaviour like this won't fly in Western countries and the reaction from your friend to your story also seems very out of touch with reality.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 15:48

5 Answers 5


He acted unprofessionally - I mean, way beyond any line of decency. You told him explicitly that his actions were unprofessional and, on not receiving an apology, broke off contact. I can't really see a better way to handle it, to be honest. Without an explicit rejection, he can try to hide behind excuses of "misreading signals". You might raise the matter with his superiors in due course but that's better not done in the heat of the moment; you might also wish to consider the possible emotional drain of following such a path (privately some of us will be thinking "nail the bastard", but we don't have to actually do it).

From what you've said, he clearly believes he is entitled to act the way he did, sees no reason to apologise, and is now trying to manipulate you into feeling bad about rejecting him. This could be because he hopes you will return, or because he wishes to pressurise you into not taking further action against him. That escalates the inappropriateness of the office meeting, in my opinion. Don't be tempted to contact him again to try to mend any bridges - no good can come of it.

  • Thank you for your response. I will never contact him again. However, after telling a male friend of mine my story, his first reaction is, you shouldn't have burned all bridges with him, it may harm your career. I thought i handled it in the wrong way. Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 13:51
  • 1
    I don't know what your male friend thinks an unburned bridge would be like. Obviously this is a very unfortunate situation for you, but if he wants to and can harm your career, then your only choices were to be the victim of this pervert forever, or to have your career harmed. Putting in a formal complaint against him might be the best defense against that.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 22:48
  • 1
    @autumntimes That friend is wrong, very wrong. Simple as that. Why would it harm your career ? Doesn't a good career also mean that you enjoy working with people and feel confortable around them ? Putting up with that pervert for months or even years would be unthinkable for me (especially if I were a woman). You did a good thing by completely terminating every contact with that bastard. Personally, I would've gone even further by calling the police.... I mean, if he did it once, he did it before, and he's probably slowly becoming a rapist, if he's not one already... Commented Oct 11, 2015 at 8:03
  • 3
    To add to the above, terminating the relationship immediately is the best time to do it. The longer you put up with someone like this, the more likely they will try to spin the "putting up" as assumed consent (or even encouragement) when the complaint eventually comes, and - frustratingly - the more likely they will get away with it. Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 8:08
  • You measured. You cut. Well done, do not look back. There is nothing to be gained in the presence of a bully. It was not immediately obvious to you, but you left at the first point when it was. No regrets. Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 21:54

My question is if I could've handled it in a better way. I would never use my body or put up with any harassment just to progress in my career. However now I burned all bridgets with him I wonder if i could've just rejected him in a 'polite' way.

The better way would have been to trust your instincts initially and drop him as your mentor.

Beyond that the sooner you dropped him, the better, so your later avoidance was appropriate.

There is no sense trying to be polite here. There are no bridges to him that should remain unburned. Continue to block him. Do not respond to any of his communications. Put it behind you. Learn to trust your instincts.

  • 5
    The only other advice I'd offer is to document what happened in the physical meeting and any other future contacts you have with him in case he tries to make trouble.
    – HLGEM
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 15:49

The one point I would like to add to Julia's excellent answer is that you should go to whatever organization brought you in contact with him as a mentor and advise them of your interaction. This sounds like a person who has created a situation where they are in a position of power over young women and is abusing that power. By advising whoever is conecting him with mentees you may prevent this from happening again to someone else.

  • +1000 Report this guy so this doesn't happen to someone else! Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 2:15
  • While this is certainly useful, OP shouldn't feel obligated to put herself in a vulnerable position. OP, please don't feel obligated to report this to anyone if you're not feeling up to it.
    – Jo Bennet
    Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 0:15

Perhaps with hindsight, or by being an outside observer, you could have thought of a way to handle it better, but it's a one hundred percent normal human reaction to question yourself when actually confronted with a situation so extreme, or to be outright terrified, and as a result just not know what to do. I wouldn't criticize someone for how they handled such a horrible situation. You were a victim, of the most extreme form of sexual harassment. But now that you are removed from the situation, please report him, and forward any of his emails or texts as evidence of his misconduct.

  • Repeat: "Please report him".
    – gnasher729
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 22:38

It is utterly irrelevant if you acted "professionally" or not. But you did a somewhat sensible thing. It would have been even more sensible if you had never agreed to meet with this fellow.

"Professional" is just a meaningless word created by managers and executives to manipulate employees into doing what they want the employees to do regardless of whether it is sensible or not. Ignore that word.

Also, "mentoring" is just another management fad. No one is so stupid that they need to be "mentored". People may require information and the benefit of the experience of some one else from time to time. No one needs this relentless and constant mentoring that has become a modern fad. Don't fall for such nonsense. The corporate world is full of such disgusting ideas.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .