Driving out the Cuomos one brave woman at a time.

Updated: Aug 11


By SARA VANDEN BERGE


I was sitting in the nail salon today when news broke that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had resigned after several women accused him of sexual harassment.


The allegations included inappropriate touching, kissing and a whole lot of yucky flirtation.

The Husband and I always pay attention to these types of public allegations and have discussed the Cuomo saga at length. We have been waiting for him to slip out the back door after a state investigation revealed that he had sexually harassed multiple women and violated state law.


In a hard-to-watch mea culpa earlier today, Cuomo told the world his instincts were to “fight” the allegations, but instead, he would resign.


"New York tough means New York loving, and I love New York, and I love you. I would never want to be unhelpful in any way,” he said.

That made me LOL.


Tell that to the women he allegedly pawned, fondled and flirted with while they tried to do their jobs, because, well, those things seem pretty unhelpful to me.


I should know. I lived it.


THAT HARD-TO-TELL STORY


The Husband and I were in the middle of a raging argument several years ago about allegations that America’s favorite dad – Bill Cosby – had drugged and raped dozens of women.


The Husband couldn’t understand that if what those women said happened was true, why it took them years to come forward.

I practically beat my head against the wall trying to make him understand what he never could - not because he is an insensitive jerk - but because he has never lived through anything like it.


That’s the night I told him about what happened to me.


I was the managing editor of two area publications for many years and worked with more than 14 male publishers during that time.


All of them were professional and treated me with respect, except one.

He expected more than I was willing to give and made my work life a living hell.


I’ll spare you the gory details, but I’ll never forget the months I spent ducking, dodging and busying myself when he was in the office, carefully trying to keep the situation from devolving into one I couldn’t manage on my own.


I needed my job. Our oldest son was about to start college at Texas A&M University and my income would pay his tuition and living expenses.


So I told no one about what I was enduring, not even my closest friends and certainly not The Husband who I knew would start World War III.

Instead, I kept the secret to myself. I swapped dresses and heels for pants and flats and kept my ulcer at bay by taking TUMS by the bucket.


The toxic work environment made it difficult to sleep and my stomach churned all the time.


Then one day, it was over.


I received an email from the regional publisher informing me that the man who had harassed me for months would not be returning; that he was gone from the company permanently.

I didn’t ask for an explanation because I didn’t care. I had managed my way through an impossible situation and I was ready to get back to normal.


But six months later, the ugly truth came tumbling out.


Turns out I wasn’t the only woman he had been harassing, but his other victim had been braver than me.


She was his secretary, a single mother without any real “power” in the company, but that didn’t stop her from fighting back.


After reporting his behavior to HR, the company launched an investigation and he was ousted.


I have been ashamed of my failure to act ever since.

It never occurred to me that other women were suffering under his leadership, and as a senior managing editor for the company, I could and should have tried to stop it.


Instead, I was too afraid to speak up, fearing that doing so would end my career and livelihood.


So I suffered in silence, even though I was in my 40s and a well-established journalist who had earned some respect in the industry.


If I had spoken up, people would have listened. They would have believed me.


But I was paralyzed by fear of the unknown - just like Cosby’s and Cuomo's accusers undoubtedly were - and millions of other women who have lived through similar situations.

The Husband’s jaw hit the floor when I finally shared my experience with him that night.


There was a lot of crying and yelling. He was furious that I didn’t come to him for help and I was ashamed that I hadn’t.


Today, he gets it, and together, we applaud the brave women who share their stories with a world full of people who don’t always understand.


They place themselves under the harsh glare of an unforgiving spotlight so that my daughter and yours might not have to suffer the same plight.


Today was a good day.