Staying Safe While Working Abroad
Flying overseas for business is a great opportunity for career advancement. It’s a chance to network and collaborate with other professionals and learn about different cultures and foreign business practices. Before packing your bag though, please consider the following scenarios to better understand the tactics a perpetrator may use while interacting with international business travelers:
It is the third day of a Hospitality conference in Cologne, Germany with two colleagues from your company… At the end of the day you go to dinner. Several people from the conference join you. One of the men sits next to you at dinner. He works in the same profession as you. As the evening wears on, you tell your colleagues you are ready to go back to the hotel. They aren’t ready to go, but your new acquaintance offers to walk you back to your hotel room for safety. He is polite and professional so you agree. He sexually assaults you back at your hotel room.
You are at a black tie reception in a 5 star hotel hosted by the American Embassy in Athens… There are about 100 delegates from all over the world. A man from France approaches you and introduces himself. After an hour of conversation, he invites you to spend the day on his yacht the next day. You ask if you can invite a colleague. He suggests you come alone so he can get to know you better. The man is clearly a wealthy, international, professional individual so you accept. Once you are about a mile offshore, he repeatedly rapes you.
You are an IT professional on assignment in Bangalore, India… At the end of a training day, food is brought in for the group of 12 people. After finishing, one by one, everyone says goodbye. When everyone leaves, you pack up your presentation and head to the elevator. One of the attendees at the training emerges from the bathroom and waits with you for the elevator to arrive. You feel uncomfortable, but then they mention how great the training was and so you feel less guarded. When the elevator arrives, you both get in and continue the conversation. When the door reopens, the person pushes you into the empty hallway and sexually assault you.
What is common in each of these scenarios?
- The perpetrator was skillful at getting you to let your guard down, or the situation became comfortable and you let your guard down
- The perpetrator separated you, or waited until you were separated from your traveling companions
- The perpetrator may have built trust with you.
Some Important Things To Consider:
- Remember- it’s not your fault.
- Are you in a safe place? Call or find a trustworthy colleague or friend to help you, if possible.
- Do you need medical attention? If evidence is collected, what is the legal time frame in which evidence is considered viable?
- Is it safe to report the assault in the country where you are temporarily working? Every country has different laws and Americans abroad must abide by the laws of the country where the assault was committed.
- Do you want to report the assault to your Human Resources Department? Are there policies in place at your workplace so that you can take time off?
Important First Steps:
- If you are in a safe place, do you have a trustworthy colleague to help you? If you are not safe, try and get a safe person to come and get you.
- Do self-collection of evidence. Put all of the clothes you were wearing, bed sheets, and so on in a paper bag.
- If there is semen present, collect what you can in a glass or cup and put it in the paper bag.
- If you have any injuries, take pictures immediately.
There are so many other things to consider, contact our crisis center to speak with a SASHAA advocate from a secure line at work or trusted email account. Advocates are available 24/7. They can help you through the ordeal, honoring your decisions. All calls and emails are confidential.