I kept a secret for over 20 years. Looking back I strongly regret not speaking up at the time. When it happened I was frozen for a moment with surprise and fear. Afterwards I pushed the experience out of my head and didn’t tell anyone. I minimised it as just one of those things that must happen in the police force and even thought that maybe I did something to encourage it. Did I flirt with him? Did I send out some signals?
I have since wondered how many other women experienced something similar, or worse, from this guy because I didn’t have the courage or the know-how to speak up at the time.
I’ve always considered myself a strong and confident woman and certainly not afraid of shaking things up or being around controversy. So why did I keep the secret for so long? By the time I spoke up and verbalised it, there was nothing much I could do about it. As my professional world now revolves around helping people to reduce hidden truth and harmful deception in their lives, I often reflect on that quick but impactful moment.
It was around October and I was a wide-eyed, fresh-faced new young Police Constable soaking up the reality of ‘kitting-up’ on every shift with a .38 Smith and Wesson gun, handcuffs and a baton. I was still getting used to my role and my new found power to arrest people. I had graduated from the Police Academy in May, on Friday the 13th, which happened to be my 22nd birthday.
So around 4 or 5 months into my new career, I headed off to a place called ‘Dawson Street’ where new officers went to get their licence to drive a police vehicle. I’m not sure if I had to complete a written test first, that part of my memory is fuzzy. I did know that I had to go for a drive with an instructor who would decide if my driving skills were sufficient to be awarded the prize of my special licence. I felt quietly confident that I would pass as I had been driving for 4 years without incident.
I headed off for the drive with the Sergeant instructor who at the time I remember thinking was ‘rather old’. On reflection I think he was probably in his mid 40’s. We headed off with me driving the divisional van and travelled through the suburbs into areas I was unfamiliar with. I lived on the other side of town, so I really had no idea where I was.
I estimate we were about 30 minutes or so into the drive and by then we were out of the busy suburbs. The area we were in had few houses and I think it was a new housing estate that we drove into. There were some cleared parts of land and some were still bushland. The instructor told me to go off road and speed up a bit as he wanted to see how I handled the car in the gravel. That made sense and was kind of fun.
He then told me to stop the car and said my driving was pretty good although there were a couple of things I needed to work on. We stopped in an area where there was nobody around.
The next thing I knew he grabbed my hand and was leading it over to his unzipped pants. It happened so fast and as he made the move he said something to the effect of “See how excited you have got me” and then said “I can guarantee you will pass your licence if you help me out here”. I pulled my hand away and said “Are you serious?!”
He laughed and said “Come on, there’s no-one around, let’s have a bit of fun, it won’t take long, I’m sure you’re really good at it” and reached out for my hand again. I blushed, I froze, I did a stupid laugh to pretend I wasn’t flustered and then told him I wanted to go back to the station. He tried to coax me one more time as he sat there stroking himself and I started the van. He seemed annoyed and said something like “Fine, we’ll go back then”.
The friendly chatter that we had been engaged in prior to that incident had now stopped. My heart was still racing and I felt like all my power and confidence had been zapped away. I lost concentration and the next thing I knew I went through a stop sign, slowing but not stopping completely. There were no cars coming but the Sergeant picked up on the driving error and said “Sorry, that’s a serious error, it’s unlikely I’ll be able to pass you today”.
That stressed me more and I tried to focus. We got back to Dawson Street and as we arrived he said “I’ll do what I can to pass you but I don’t think you will and of course you won’t mention our fun little interaction on our drive”.
I didn’t pass the driving test and I was told I could come back in a couple of months to do the test again. I didn’t tell anyone what happened. I told people at my station that I didn’t pass the driving test because I went through a stop sign. About two months later I went back to do the test again, got a different instructor (thankfully) and passed within 30 minutes. He commented on my solid driving skills and said he couldn’t understand why I didn’t pass the first time.
In my professional experience talking with people about truth, hidden truth and the impact of deception I often hear stories similar to the one I just shared. Some people tell how they spoke up and others relate to the fear and uncertainty and sweeping it under the mat as if it never happened.
We know of many stories made public in the media recently and the prevalence of these sorts of incidents in Hollywood and in big business. These types of conversations take courage and support and thankfully the topic is not as taboo as it once was.
In the work that I do with individuals and organisations, I work with the foundation of my 4 TRUTH CIRCLES. They are: SELF Truth, SPEAK Truth, SEEK Truth, and SPOT Hidden Truth. Each of them, when explored further, can help us avoid the hazards of hidden truth and harmful deception in our personal and professional lives. The primary reasons that people fail to SPEAK Truth are Fear and Uncertainty and they break down into further factors.
We are often afraid and uncertain about what will happen next, what someone will do, how it will impact on us, what someone else’s response might be and how we will be judged. We think there will be no turning back when the truth comes out.
In any part of your life, if you are hiding the truth and wish you had the courage to speak up about something here are 3 tips to help:
- Reclaim your power. At some point you may have given away your power and convinced yourself that maybe you were to blame or you deserved what happened. You are stronger than you think, take your power back.
- Align your actions with your values. If you act in alignment with your values and your integrity everything will turn out fine in the end. Speaking up may feel scary but you will thank yourself for living and demonstrating your true values.
- Listen to your body. Your body knows. Truth is found in feelings so listen when your body speaks. When we are twisted up emotionally with a hidden truth our body sends signals. Pain or discomfort can appear in the form of stress, anger, overwhelm or resentment. It can even make you sick or cause serious illness.
When you get tangled in a place where you are uncertain how to attract truth, speak truth, hear truth or uncover truth, I call it a Truth Dilemma®. Untangling yourself from the dilemma will bring more peace and clarity to your world. If you can’t do it alone, reach out for help. Find your voice and explore ways to build your confidence, your skills, your self-belief and never be afraid to speak the truth when it matters most.