I was never well treated in my pursuit of a PhD. I was given little support; I was isolated and at times unfairly stigmatized by the academics in my department.
I had one thesis supervisor who was very helpful at first. He provided good criticism of my work but that changed after a rather peculiar conversation.
I used to meet him for coffee, where we would discuss the issues related to my thesis. Overtime, we’d, of course, talk about personal things as well. He knew that I had little money and I was having trouble finding work in my field while pursuing a PhD.
One day he suggested I should become a prostitute.
At first, I thought he was joking, one of those “academic” discussions you have in university. But he was persistent and provided details. He knew how much money you could make, how you advertise and how you get clients and what you did with them.
He was persistent
He kept this up, really pushing the idea that I should give this option a chance, because he said he knew lots of students who were doing it.
I was firm that I was not interested but he kept the “pitch” going for more than a half an hour.
Once he realized I would not consider this option, his demeanor completely changed with me. He was not available to help with my thesis and at other times his suggestions were ludicrous.
Was it real?
So was his suggestion about becoming an escort to pay for my schooling real? I will never really know.
But after I discussed this issue with someone who represented students in their complaints, I was shown newspaper articles that concerned the head of my department. A few years before, she had been involved in a court case over the ownership of a bordello. She always claimed she was not involved but only became involved as an executor to her sister-in-law’s estate.
Was there a connection? I will never know.
But I do know that systemic bullying turned my dreams of an intellectually satisfying life in academia or government research to dust. There were no, oh so vital, entrees into the workplace for me.
To work in my field, I needed good references. I hate to think what they would say about me behind my back to a potential employer after the crazy accusations they made to my face. I have been struggling to turn the bleak situation around for a long time.
The tantalizing dream of intellectually challenging work has slipped from my grasp. Being the victim made me vulnerable and seriously, prostitution was the only option left to make good money.
But because of personal dignity, I chose welfare. No nice holidays or the chance to travel. Earning to pay a dentist to fill a tooth is a struggle.
Key Word: bullied academic
Anonymous did eventually get her PhD without much help from her department.