"Please speak up."
That's what one brave young woman wants others to do if they too have been violated in their workplace.
It wasn't easy for Oak Flat's Renee Steele to take a stand against sexual harassment and touching.
She was disrespected, confused and in disbelief but she found her courage, and her voice to not only confront her manager but to report the crime to the police and eventually speak her truth in court.
The 26-year-old hopes that by sharing her story then other people won't dismiss or excuse the sexual and inappropriate behaviour.
Ms Steele was bent over stocking sunglasses at clothing store Beach Street Surf Scene in Shellharbour on December 26 last year when her manager Clint Daniel Corcoran used the back of his fingers to touch her buttocks and comment "nice shorts".
"First I froze, I was in disbelief that I was violated in that way; while I was busy with work and there were customers around," she exclusively told the Mercury. "I thought 'surely not, that did not just happen'.
"I immediately told a coworker, then went and cried in the bathroom. I didn't know what to do, I felt so fragile and weak."
Ms Steele felt "disrespected" and following a sleepless night and anxious thoughts she knew she had to stand up for herself and call him out on his behaviour.
She was hoping for an acknowledgment that what he did was wrong. Or even better, an apology. But she received neither so she quit.
Ms Steele did not want to work, nor should she have to, work in an environment where the manager thought it was appropriate to speak and touch her in that way.
I thought 'surely not, that did not just happen'.Renee Steele
She knew he had "crossed the line", in fact previous comments he made were completely unacceptable and made her feel uncomfortable.
About two months after she started the job, Corcoran - the assistant manager of 25 years - spoke about taking his clothes off when he got home.
On another occasion he talked about his own nipples before transferring the conversation to her nipples.
Ms Steele recounted how she was putting on lip balm and Corcoran said to her she must need the ointment "from all the kissing".
She also described how on a few occasions Corcoran referred to her car as a "shaggin' wagon".
Ms Steele felt "objectified and confused" hearing her boss say those things to her.
"The comments became steadily more inappropriate, naively I tried to disregard them so that I could continue on working with minimal discomfort," she said.
"I pride myself on doing my best at any job I participate in, put in effort to study products and have great customer service, and this is how I get treated?
"I had minimal support from most of my coworkers and was made to feel like I was overreacting, which is infuriating."
Ms Steele was a good employee, the work was close to home and it paid well. She didn't want to leave but felt she had no choice.
I spent two hours in the police station initially explaining every detail of what happened, and it was harrowing.Renee Steele
And she went a step further by reporting the way she was treated to police and would encourage others to do the same.
"Sexual harassment is too common in workplaces," Ms Steele said. "There are often power dynamics, and the more people speak up about it, the more things will change and less this will happen in the future.
"Don't let anyone tell you you're overreacting because there is actually no such thing. You are reacting to a situation. There is no over or under, if something happens to you, you are allowed to react."
But reporting the crimes to police and going through a court hearing was undoubtedly difficult as she had to speak about what happened to her many times; going into detail about what happened when, how she felt and where she was assaulted.
"I spent two hours in the police station initially explaining every detail of what happened, and it was harrowing," she said.
"I completely understand why a lot of people don't come forward because it is super difficult to do, and so much easier to just move on with life.
"However, people deserve respect and the message needs to get out that this is no way to treat another person."
Ms Steele found it difficult to have to bend over and demonstrate where she was touched to strangers in a courtroom but despite this she did not waver under cross examination. She was strong and brave.
"I was made out to be a liar, asked how short my shorts were, and again had to relive those experiences as I explained why I felt violated and objectified," Ms Steele said.
But despite that she still wants people to "speak up".
"This behaviour will continue unless you take action. Even if you leave your workplace, it could just get transferred to someone else," she said. "We live in a patriarchal society where this behaviour is dismissed and often accepted by all genders.
"The only way to change it is to speak up. Since this happened 11 months ago, when I started speaking about it I had so many people listen to my story, and then tell me theirs.
"The amount of people with a similar story that didn't get reported is upsetting and we need to change the cultural norm. Disrespect is not OK."
Even some of her colleagues did not believe her, instead they made excuses that Corcoran was "a cuddly guy" and he "wouldn't have meant it like that" but she knows regardless of his intent, she was violated and it was a crime.
Most people she told believed her and she has been supported by her true friends through the past 11 months.
After being unemployed for some time, Ms Steele found a new job where her employers are "incredible and have been patient and supportive with me on this journey".
"I am so grateful for these people," she said. "It's so important having a great support group to back you and validate your feelings.
"I learnt to not question myself so much.
"My feelings are my feelings and just because other people are scared of upsetting the status quo, does not mean that I have to do the same.
"Against odds I won my case, and I feel stronger and more assertive for it."
Corcoran was fined $2000 and placed on community corrections order for 12 months where he must be of good behaviour.
The Illawarra Mercury newsroom is funded by our readers. You can subscribe to support our journalism here.