An open letter – A #MeToo Story in Advertising
An open letter about why I left advertising
When people hear that I left advertising, they wonder if I couldn't hack it. So here is an open letter to explain the real reason why I left.
In August of 2015, I left Advertising for good. Changed my name, deleted Facebook, LinkedIn, you name it - gone. I was invisible, just how I felt.
My Creative Director had said something, that I have learned with a lot of time, I can never forget; “You are too beautiful to worry”. She said it so sweetly and innocently that I didn’t really even have a reaction, I just went back to work.
This was the final straw for me. It wasn’t the first time a colleague or a superior had undermined my legitimate concerns with a patronizing comment, but that was the last time. My mental health, at this time, had completely deteriorated. I was a shell of my former self. After a failed attempt to take my own life, I left Toronto. I left advertising, I left work, I left my apartment, my roommate, my friends, and all the things that I had once loved behind me.
With a lot of help from my family, my doctors, the hospital and the government programs I have attended, I am doing a whole lot better today. I don’t want to leave this world anymore. I want to stay and try my hardest to make a tiny fucking difference in it.
People have asked me, “So, you couldn’t cut it in Advertising?” or “What happened to you?” many times and all of those times I have given a polite and courteous answer. A professional and dignified response to the 3-year gap in my resume and portfolio - “Health problems in the family”.
The truth is the truth and for a long time, it’s been too hard to tell, but here goes nothing.
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How it all began
In May of 2013, I was offered a freelance graphic design position at an Advertising Agency in Toronto - my first real job. I accepted it, obviously, and worked my ass off to prove myself there with the goal of eventually being hired as a full-time graphic designer. I did it! And within 3 fucking months! Amazing. I was on cloud-9 - the absolute best day of my life.
Everything was going fantastically! I loved the hustle, the work and the people. They became my family and eventually my best-friends, with one even being a room-mate! I was in heaven.
The 23rd of August is a night I will not forget. This was my first-ever employee work party and I was really excited. I had been to some work events as an Intern, but I never really felt like I belonged there. This place and this party was my time to celebrate that with my friends!
A room full of bystanders
After a few drinks in the office, most of the staff headed upstairs to the rooftop patio. Yup, you heard me - exclusive Toronto rooftop patio with adorable picnic tables and a great view. Did I say heaven already? We all pulled the tables together, in order to have one long “communal table” and sit together family-style.
While the drinks were flowing and the music was loud, I was sitting at the table when I felt a heavy object hit me in the back. My ribs were forced, really hard and fast, into the top of the picnic table and I lost my breath. Before I could figure out what was going on, it happened again and again and again. He stopped humping my back eventually, but I really don’t know how long it went on for. Hearing his cackling belly laugh bellowing out from behind me, I turned around and although I knew from the laugh I needed to confirm who had done this to me.
I looked around at everyone else, just sitting there. With a roof-top full of people all sitting around each other “family-style”, you’d think someone would try to stop it. I do remember making eye-contact with a colleague at the end of the table and mouthing the word “help” as they winced. When I realized that the roof-top became quieter, despite his laugh, I walked over the picnic table (clutching my stomach in pain) and made my way down to the office.
I passed out on the President’s Eams Chair and I don’t remember how long I was there. When I came to, a friend was getting me in a cab to go home - that is a true friend and he is a cherished person in my heart every day. I had vomited all over the chair and the real fur rug underneath it. The president later joked about how I cost him 5K in cleaning expenses. Also, later I found out that a colleague thought seeing me passed out in my own vomit was funny, so he snapped a photo of me, in said position, with my phone.
Bruises formed on my abdomen immediately and my ribs hurt for weeks after that night. Fearing what would happen if I pursued anything and also being a 21-year-old, newly employed person really messed up my judgement. So, I decided to ice my ribs and tiger-balm myself back into work. When I asked my Creative Director (Senior Writer at the time) why he would do that to me, he just simply said that he didn’t remember.
I tried to forget about it and I also tried to protect myself. Two impossibly insane goals I know, but I did try until I couldn’t anymore. It wore me out.
Why am I bringing this up now? Good question. The answer is that I am ready now. I am ready to proudly state "#MeToo" in the hopes that you will never have to, as well as to clear up my giant resume gap. I have to be honest in order to get better, to be at my best, and now you know that too.
Sincerely, Madison Turner.
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