A woman who left the U.S. to fulfill her 20-year-long dream of living in Europe allegedly became the helpless victim of sexual harassment just three days after she moved to the Netherlands.
Stephanie Soong, originally from San Francisco, recalled the events of the chilling encounter in a Facebook post on June 12. She was receiving heavy pieces of furniture from a four-man team of IKEA employees in her new Amsterdam home.
Soong’s ordeal reportedly started when one of the employees stayed behind. She called him “D” in her lengthy post that detailed her horrifying experience, which sadly remains unresolved to date.
“Immediately, I became so scared and freaked out. 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.’
“After he finished, 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!
“After kicking him out, I curled up in a ball on the apartment floor and started crying.”
According to Soong, she spent the last two weeks “fighting with IKEA corporate global headquarters” to prevent similar incidents in the future, but to no avail. She even drafted a proposal “for new preventative, secondary, and tertiary processes and policies that should be implemented to protect women’s safety and to protect their rights.”
To her dismay, IKEA representatives were far from helpful. She recalled their responses:
Male IKEA Customer Service Representative #1: “Sorry, I do not handle these complaints.”
Male IKEA Customer Service Representative #2: “You really need to calm down.”
Male IKEA Corporate Headquarters Representative: “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.”
Male IKEA Corporate Headquarters Representative: “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.”
Soong claimed that she had also reported the incident to Dutch police but learned that her case cannot be prosecuted for the lack of physical evidence.
“I have reported this in person to the Dutch Police, the day that it happened. They were very kind, however they said that this is not something they can prosecute on because I have no physical proof. They said that since I literally don’t have semen in or on my body and that I don’t have any physical markings of abuse on my body, there’s not much I or they can do.”
The reality of a nightmare has left Soong in a difficult state. She fears for her safety as “D” remains at large.
“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.
“I feel INCREDIBLY infuriated, defeated, powerless, and depressed. There have been so many sleepless nights since the incident. I lay awake crying and replaying the IKEA harassment over and over. His grasp. His face. His tongue.
“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.”
Soong, who fully supports the #MeToo movement, also took a jab at the IKEA representatives she communicated with.
“I hate that all of the IKEA men I’ve talked to have shown absolutely no respect for women, their safety, and their rights. They have been extremely sexist, callous, and completely dismissive. On top of that, they have made no plans to change any processes and policies to improve this for women or even prevent this from happening again. I am living PROOF that their current policies are not ‘sufficient’! And on top of that, D is still out there and has not dealt with any repercussions for his actions!”
For now, Soong encourages the public to share her story to boost awareness. Facebook users expressed their support:
However, others dismissed the authenticity of her claims:
On June 13, Soong updated her post with the following:
“UPDATE (June 13): Thank you all so much for your support! I can’t even begin to express my gratitude to each and every one of you. I’m incredibly touched. The overwhelming amount of love, compassion, and support I am receiving from practically all of you, really helps me through this hard time. Thank you for believing me and more importantly, thank you for fighting with me to make things just
Featured Images via Facebook / Stephanie Soong