"I feel confused. I feel powerless. I feel dirty. I feel helpless. I feel scared. I feel lonely"
An Asian American who recently moved to Amsterdam was sexually harassed by an IKEA worker who delivered her furniture.
A worker in IKEA Amsterdam has been called out for sexually harassing an Asian American who had just moved to the Netherlands after delivering her furniture.
Stephanie Soong who had always dreamed of living in Europe, recently took the plunge and moved from San Francisco to Amsterdam. However, shortly after moving in and ordering her furniture, Soong experienced a horrific ordeal that she shared on Facebook. She had only been in Amsterdam for 3 days.
In the post, Soong described how she was sexually harassed by an IKEA delivery man who remained in her apartment after his employees had left.
The worker, identified only as ‘D’, had returned to Soong’s flat to deliver 4 items that were missing in the original delivery. After dropping off the items, D’s boss took off and left the employee alone with Soong in the flat.
“I let D in the apartment as per usual because the items were heavy,” Soong writes. “After dropping them off, he immediately yelled through the window to his boss and told him to drive away so that he could be alone with me. The boss drove away fully aware he was leaving his colleague alone in an apartment with me.”
The employee, who was much larger than Soong, began touching her. “D was way bigger and much stronger than I. D walked up very close to my face and proceeded to squeeze-massage my left bicep moving up and down, then my right one, then moved down to my thigh, slowly moving upward to my upper thigh towards my butt; all while saying, “You have such a nice body. Your body SO niceee..”
He asked her for her phone number and if he could give her an intimate massage. Despite Soong’s refusal, he continued to insist. “He asked me for my phone number to go on a date. Then he asked me if I wanted a massage. And after many refusals and “NO!”s, he asked if he could give me a special massage, then stuck his tongue out, flickered it up and down multiple times, all while looking at my vagina. My body went into full-shock when I realized he was insinuating he wanted to eat me out by “massaging” my vagina with his tongue!”
Soong managed to kick the man out of her apartment but she was left crying and alone. “After kicking him out, I curled up in a ball on the apartment floor and started crying. I feel so violated. I feel confused. I feel powerless. I feel dirty. I feel helpless. I feel scared. I feel lonely. My blood is boiling with anger and fear. I just moved to Amsterdam and within 3 days, I was sexually harassed by an IKEA employee in my own home.”
When Soong complained to IKEA’s headquarters to prevent the incident from occurring again to anyone else, she was met with shocking incompetence.
“I spent the last two weeks fighting with IKEA corporate global headquarters to make sure that this NEVER happens again to another woman. During one of my many insomniac nights post-incident, I even created a business proposal for new preventative, secondary, and tertiary processes and policies that should be implemented to protect women’s safety and to protect their rights.”
One response from an IKEA Customer Service representative was “Sorry, I do not handle these complaints,” whilst another was, “You really need to calm down.”
A male IKEA Corporate Headquarters Representative responded to Soong by saying, “as a global organization present in 29 countries, we already have clear policies and business processes in place which we monitor and review closely on a continuous basis. We trust this to be sufficient.”
Another simply said no illegal activity had occurred. “According to Dutch law, since you have no legal case for what has happened, we will not compensate you. We are very sorry this has happened though. Here is a dinner for two to make things right for you.”
Dutch police also said they were unable to prosecute because Soong had no proof as she had no physical markings on her body.
Consequently, Soong has felt afraid to leave her own apartment. “I’m scared to leave my apartment in fear that D will be hiding outside. Sometimes when I have to leave the apartment, I run as fast as I can into a public area, so that if I scream or if I’m attacked by D, someone will see. Whenever I’m walking back to my apartment entrance, I’m scared that D will be lurking ready to attack me and punish me for speaking up.”
Nonetheless, by sharing her story on social media, Soong hopes she can boost awareness. “Since this post is Public and IKEA is tagged, simply “liking”, commenting or sharing this post would really help boost awareness.”
She hopes to warn women and empower others to speak up about harassment. “In an ideal world, women shouldn’t have to look over their shoulder all the time because organizations in a position of power should be preventing and protecting this from happening in the first place. But for now, we have to deal with the hand we’re dealt.”
“There is sometimes a belief that if a woman isn’t beaten, penetrated, or killed, then she wasn’t really assaulted. But as a society, we need to continue to talk about the “smaller” acts of harassment that are just as unacceptable in order to get to point where we, as a collective consciousness, agree that these kinds of acts (large or small) are intolerable.”
Soong also hopes that her story will shed light on the grey areas of the law that allow sexual assault to occur unpenalised. “Sexual misconduct has a lot of grey areas compared to let’s say, violent rape. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be addressed just because it’s not “against the law.”