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    #MeToo in the dental practice

    Why non-judgmentally supporting our colleagues and friends through sexual harassment situations is critical.

    Welcome to the generation of #MeToo. This is where women are finally finding their voice and saying, “Enough is enough.” But we have some challenges.

    Each woman has to decide for herself what to do when she feels violated. Unless you walk in her shoes, you have no idea what issues she is wrestling with. You can’t “out” her without the potential for consequences that could be life-altering. We can’t judge each other for speaking up or making the decision to not act. But some people don’t understand that.

    Related reading: Fighting back against sexual harassment in the dental industry

    What do I mean? If I were a single mom raising my child without support, my dental hygienist job would be critical. If my boss had been harassing me, I would feel conflicted and overwhelmed. Some would feel powerless.

    #MeToo campaignIt is very easy for people to say, “Leave the job.” But for many of us, it isn’t that easy. We are talking about survival. There are many factors involved in coming forward, confronting bad behavior and taking action. Women should never be treated in such a bad manner, but sometimes it’s more difficult than it seems to extricate oneself from a bad situation.

    It is not my place to tell someone how to live her life, but sometimes you feel you have an obligation to speak up. I did it once. A colleague was in an abusive relationship with her live-in boyfriend. He was beyond abusive and demeaning. She would talk as if it didn’t matter to her. Then, one day it impacted my life.

    We were driving downtown to a dental event during a hideous snow storm. Her boyfriend decided to join us on this treacherous drive. He sat in the passenger seat and verbally put her down the entire way to the event. Traffic was snarled and barely moving. “Why did you take this road?” “We are going to be late.” He just went on and on and on, berating and belittling her. She calmly told him what her plan was. His response was to snap at her barking that she should go into oncoming traffic to get around the cars that weren’t moving.

    He reached over as if he was going to grab the wheel. Instead, he played with all the buttons in the car — the heat, the turn signal, etc. His behavior was erratic and terrifying. I kept telling him, “She is doing a great job” and “Stop patronizing her.” He just got angrier and angrier. Then, it dawned on me. If he behaves this terribly in front of me, what will happen to her when I get out of the car?

    Continue to page two to read more...

    Lisa Newburger, LISW-S
    Lisa Newburger, a master's level social worker supervisor, helps audiences find humor in talking about tough topics. Her "in-your-face" ...

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