My faculty is very conservative. As an unmarried mother, my partner and I were never able to feel ‘at home’ when interacting with other colleagues and their wives (there were no other women on staff). At first I just thought people were being a little unfriendly but slowly I realised that I was the victim of a witch-hunt. It began with constantly having to justify everything I did, both my research and teaching – I was clearly being observed and evaluated by all. But it got much worse. I was harassed by students on a website organised by a fellow professor and when I asked for action to be taken to stop this site nothing was done. This made them feels safe and they went a step further. They published a satirical magazine on a website calling me a lesbian, accusing me of sleeping with my female students and spicing things up with pictures of witches. I couldn’t believe my eyes and again no one stopped this, people just pretended nothing was happening and I was beginning to feel crushed and hopeless. Finally I decided to take legal actions but I was totally on my own. Eventually I fell into a depression and had to take time off of work. After a while I started looking for other jobs, I could not go back there. While I am now back at work this experience really destroyed my sense of self and career.
The story happened to me at an academic institution in Belgium