Tag Archives: sexual harassment

#hertoo #himtoo

My last post was by far the most stressful and vulnerable thing I’ve ever written. Harder than any other post, paper, exam, college or job application I’ve ever completed. Never in my life have I second guessed myself as much as I did that day. I was literally shaking and sweating as I clicked the publish button. But the response that I received both online and behind the scenes has made me so very aware that I did the right thing.

It is absolutely crazy how many of us have such deeply disturbing stories to tell. Men and women of all ages are affected by this. Today a few friends have decided it’s their time to share. And I’m so very very proud of them. Solidarity, sisters and brothers.

There were also quite a few people who reached out to me but declined to have their stories posted publicly. And I deeply respect that. Because as important as it is to tell our stories, it’s just as important to remember that we don’t owe them to anyone.

#metoo #hertoo #himtoo

“In the summer before my senior year of college, I got a job working at the company where my dad worked at the time. It was a small medical device company and I was hired to assist the sales team. Sexual harassment was a huge part of the culture. Example- if the owner of the company liked my outfit one day he would ask me to stand up and spin around. And I would. But the worst offender, for me, was this guy Shad. I say “this guy”, but really he was a 30 something, recently divorced man with 3 daughters under the age of 6. He asked me inappropriate questions and made weird comments all the time. But the worst time was when I walked into the office that he shared with another guy and he said “Sometimes I just look at that little ass of yours and just think about what I could do with it.” And I just froze. The other guy in the office kind of made a comment about that not being ok to say and I mumbled something about feeling weird about turning around and walking out, to which Shad said “That’s ok, I like the front too.” I walked out and told my direct supervisor what had just happened. Nothing ever came of it, I don’t even think he ever even talked to Shad about it. My direct supervisor at the time was my dad. I also later told the owner of the company and our “HR” representative and they laughed and said he just liked me. I worked at that company for 5 years and I could tell you dozens (hundreds?) of other stories like this one.” – Katie

“A guy in my high school was mad at me for turning him down so he told everyone that we had sex at a party. We obviously didn’t, it was a lie. I spent a lot of time defending myself to other people but to him, I said nothing. And to this day people still believe him.” – Megan

“I was at a party with my friends and I started dancing with a cute guy when all of a sudden he aggressively stuck his hand down my pants. He just did it without saying anything. I pulled away and he started laughing and turned around and walked away. I didn’t even know his name but he still thought it was ok to do something like that. I found a friend and told him what happened and his response was that the guy was probably just drunk. So that was that.” – Anonymous

“Story #1: Senior in high school, New Year’s Eve. It’s me and my three high school besties. My friend had an older coworker at the restaurant she worked out who was throwing a party so we all went. His parents had a huge house, they were out of town, we could all crash there so nobody had to drive. We drank too much. I ended up crashing in a bed by myself. I woke up in the middle of the night, it was pitch black. I couldn’t see anything. But I could feel two strong arms holding me down against the bed, groping me, whispering to me to relax. I was afraid to scream, but somehow after a lot of effort I was able to get him off me. I never saw his face. I went out to the hall and ran down toward another bedroom door to find somebody I knew. I found my friend, shook her awake and told her we had to leave. We left the house, in the pitch black and drove back to my parents house. To this day I don’t even know what he looks like.

Story #2: It was 2008, one of my best friends from college was having a cocktail party. We all got dressed up and invited a handful of friends. This guy I knew from college showed up. I hadn’t seen him in years. I always felt uncomfortable around him, because he had asked me out a couple times in college and I just wasn’t into him, so I always felt like he held that against me. I said hi to him in passing when he arrived but mostly socialized with others at the party. It was late and many people had left the party by now but the few remaining people were having a drunken dance party in the living room, me included. Without even realizing he was near me, I felt someone firmly grab my hand and pull me into this room off the living room that had a futon in it. He closed the door and then threw me down on the bed and got on top of me. I yelled for him to get off me. He didn’t listen so I started yelling for my other friends at the party but the music was so loud nobody could hear me. Somehow adrenaline got me out of his hold and I ran out into the dance party and yelled to everyone “get him out.” I was crying. My girls knew something was up and within a minute he was out of the house. It was a long time before I saw him again. I feared I’d be out walking around Portland by myself and run into him. I had heard he lived in the pearl and I was sure I’d bump into him. I didn’t know what he would do or if he even thought what he did was wrong. But i remember it gave me comfort to think he was too drunk to remember what he did. I’ve told a handful of people this story, because we have a ton of mutual friends. About a year ago, he showed up at a mutual friend’s birthday at a bar. Instant adrenaline rush, eight years later. I promptly left. It pissed me off I was the one who had to leave while he got to stay and enjoy the celebration.” – Ashley

“My moms “favorite” story was being asked if she went down on a first date during a JOB interview.” – Anonymous

“I was visiting a college TA during his office hours and when I went to leave the room he blocked the door with his body and told me he could see up my skirt during class one time.  He asked me if I did that on purpose and then gave me the creepiest smile.  I tried to leave but he kept blocking the doorway until I told him I was going to scream.  I left his office and tried to never be alone with him again. But I never told anyone.” – Anonymous

“This middle aged man started watching me run in 6th grade and followed me everywhere and videotaped me all until I went to college. He would write me these crazy long letters. And come to my house. My parents were very involved but didn’t handle it like I wished. He told everyone he had a terminal illness (lie) so my mom felt sorry for him. He invited me to his house repeatedly and my dad went instead to try to reason with him. Didn’t work. My school got involved and he got banned from school property for a year but would show up at away meets, on my runs, at my house. Tell me he wanted to touch me. Lots of creepy stuff. He never touched me (thank god) but inflicted such emotional turmoil for me all throughout high school.” – Laura

“I was working at a bar and some drunk guys at one of my tables asked me to show them my boobs because they had a bet going on if they were real. I went and told my (male) manager who just laughed and asked me, ‘Well what did you tell them?’. I had to keep waiting on them all night and I’m embarrassed to say that I let them keep speaking to me that way. I needed the tips.” – Sarah

“When I was 9 years old, a known creep in my town cornered me and tried to get me to take my pants off. I was able to fight him off and get away. I’ve never told anyone.” – Anonymous

“I was 14 years old and out with a few friends. This guy that I thought was really cute was also there. As the night went on and everybody started to leave the guy I thought was cute asked if I wanted to go drive around, I said sure. Not long after that we parked somewhere and were just talking, when he leaned over to kiss me and start to go up my shirt. I told him I wasn’t ready. And he basically said that’s too bad. So I laid there and cried. When I got back to my friends house he look at me, laughed, and told me to have fun walking the next day. I was too embarrassed to tell anybody. I figured I had done something or said something to make him feel that’s what I wanted. I felt like it was my fault that this happened to me, so I kept quiet. ” – Anonymous

My heart goes out to you all.

And if you’re reading, I hope that these stories affect you in some way.  Whether it’s to tell your own story publicly or to someone you trust… or confront someone who has wronged you in the past or is still harassing you today… or to keep a dialogue open with your friends and family… But at the very least, I hope it opens people’s eyes to the fact that this is happening to women (and some men) daily.  There is something to be said for the silence that they keep.


#metoo

Like most women I know, I’ve experienced countless inappropriate situations with men. I’ve been groped, ogled, teased, ridiculed, and joked about.  I’ve been uncomfortable, embarrassed, judged and scared.  But nothing has been as disturbing as the times when my “friend” would take advantage of me.

Many many years ago, I was partying a lot with a big group of friends that included this guy.  We’d been close-ish for a couple of years… but I won’t go into further details about him here, as I don’t think this is the appropriate forum to call him out.  The parties were typically at someone’s house and we’d usually all stay up late drinking and then pass out wherever we could find a soft place to land.  Several times when this guy and I were at the same party, I’d go to bed and wake up at some point in the middle of the night to find him on top of me. Kissing, groping both under and over my clothes, asking for more… I’d have no real idea of how long he’d been there doing things to me.  I would tell him to stop.  He would eventually accept my refusal and stop his advances… at least as far as I know.  I guess unconsciousness was his thing.  And then we’d go to bed and wake up the next day and basically pretend nothing happened.

At least one or two other people witnessed this happening to me. And I know at least one other person who had a similar experience this guy.  But still, no real conversation ever happened to let him know that this was wrong.  In the years that have passed, my friends and I have talked about it and wondered why he was just… allowed… to do that.   What I’ve realized is that at the time, my instincts were absolutely telling me that what he was doing was wrong.  But I ignored them, because he was my “friend”.  And to make a big deal out of the situation might make me known as dramatic, or slutty, or worst of all… responsible.  Because that was the underlying thing, I felt more concerned about my role in the situation than his.  Like I should have done something different.  I shouldn’t have drank as much as I did or I shouldn’t have put myself in close enough proximity to him to allow that to happen.

I know better now.  I know that I didn’t ask for that to happen TO me.  And no matter how much I did or did not drink, it was certainly not an invitation for him to behave the way he did. One thing that I tell Crosby (and will eventually tell Willa when she’s older) all the time is “your body, your choice”.  Because I don’t want him to ever feel like he needs to do anything with or have anything done to his body without his consent.  AND I want him to understand that he has a responsibility to respect this right in others as well.  Nothing is owed to him because he’s a male.  In fact, nothing is owed to anyone, ever.  Consent needs to be given, not taken.  And that’s the biggest thing I think about when I replay those situations in my mind, there was absolutely no consent on my part.

Honestly, it’s taken me a while to build up the courage to write this.  I have thought about it for a while but wondered if my words would even matter, if they’d even be a drop in the bucket, especially given the gravity of some of the far-worse stories that women have shared.  But that’s the point of the #metoo movement, to take the power away from the people who have wronged us by speaking up, to tell our sisters that their stories matter, and to show them that they’re not alone.  There is power in numbers, and the magnitude of people who have come forward with their stories has proved that this number is a force to be reckoned with.