#metoo: Women share stories of sexual harassment and assault

#metoo: Women share stories of sexual harassment and assault

In response to Harvey Weinstein, and well, EVERYTHING, yesterday the hashtag ‘metoo’ flooded social media channels after Alyssa Milano, took to Twitter to suggest:

And reply women (and men) did. According to The New York Times, “[t]ens of thousands of people replied to the message. Some just wrote “me too,” while many others described their personal experiences of harassment or assault.”

The #MeToo movement began over a decade ago as the brain child of activist Tarana Burke.

[A]s a survivor of sexual violence myself, as a person who was struggling trying to figure out what healing looked like for me, I also saw young people, and particularly young women of color, in the community I worked with, struggling with the same issues and trying to find a succinct way to show empathy. Right? We use a term called “empowerment through empathy.” And “Me Too” is so powerful, because somebody had said it to me—right?—and it changed the trajectory of my healing process once I heard that. (Democracy Now, 10/17/17)

Me too. And I shared via Facebook just a few of the instances when I was sexually harassed.

Friends and strangers commented that they weren’t ready to publicly share their stories but wanted to, so I offered them an anonymous outlet. I thank them, some speaking out after decades of silence, for sharing their stories. If you would like to share yours’ anonymously, feel free to email me at swirleytime@gmail.com.

My heart aches reading all of these stories, however, the virality of the #metoo movement alone indicates just how pervasive of an issue this is in American society.  We must work to fight back against the normalization of such disgusting behavior – step 1: admit, or in this case, demonstrate, that we have a problem. Also, the sky is blue, but I guess some people need reminding of that as well. Then empathy, then action.

If you are triggered by such content you might want to skip this post. I’ll add them to top as they come in.

In middle school, my two girlfriends and I were finishing up the MS walk and a guy exposed himself and shook his erect penis at us. — ME! Just remembered this one.


I’m 63 years old. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s – back when newspapers ran separate job wanted ads for men and women and before the EEOC. I worked in food service, tended bar, and held several legal office and other professional positions. And in most of those jobs, there was usually at least one creep leering, touching, grabbing, etc. (Hell, even the dress codes were blatantly sexist most of my working life.)

I was independent and hard-headed and learned early on how to “carry myself” when walking alone, how to hold my car keys between my fingers when walking to and from my car, how to be hyper-vigilant at all times in public as well as at social gatherings. I’m an old Hippie “Peace Freak” but I learned how to attempt to stop or disable an attacker by jamming my fingers into their eyes or strike their throat or the bottom of their nose to push into their brain if necessary. I have been sexually assaulted a few times, the first at age 8 by a pedophile. As a teenager, I talked my way out of two rapes by acting batshit crazy (surprisingly effective). I wasn’t so lucky two other times. My younger
son’s father forced himself on me just one week after giving birth. I’ve dealt with symptoms of PTSD most of my life – and all of these experiences have had a negative effect on my relationships with men throughout my life, despite my best efforts.– Anonymous


In my first job right out of college in a very male dominated field I was in a meeting with a group that was debating a project scope and as things got heated and the differences of opinion became vast.  I finally spoke up, quite loudly, only to be told to “hush”.As you can imagine that didn’t go over well with me and I demanded to be listened to.  The team leader stopped the entire meeting to announce that “cupcake” was upset.  He then proceeded to tell me to come sit on his lap and tell me what had me so bothered.

Everyone thought this was incredibly funny, except me.  I stayed in that job for another very long and miserable year.  Things never got better. — Anonymous


I moved away from home and took a job with an international company as Executive Assistant to the President.  He called me into his office one day.  As always I sat in the chair across the desk from him, that day he came around the desk to sit beside me.  This wasn’t normal I thought.  Once he sat down beside me he placed his hand on my knee and as his hand began to slide up my leg he said I was doing a great job but he could fire me  or give me a  rather large raise.

I knew this was VERY VERY wrong.  He said he could fire me or I could play along and I would get a substantial increase in pay.  He didn’t want an assistant, he wanted a hooker.

I left his office in tears, retrieved my purse from my desk and walked out.  — Anonymous


That time in college when an acquaintance (and friend of my then-boyfriend) pulled down my tube top to reveal my breasts. And then he just laughed. — ME!


Was at a frat party at U of I.  Some of our high school friends were in the frat, didn’t think anything of it.  This was 1976 or 77.  I don’t know if they made date rape drugs then or not…but…someone slipped me something. I woke up and I was laying on a floor in a dark room.  No idea how I got there.  I had my clothes on.  As I was starting to walk down the stairs I noticed I was sore and wet.  My money was missing out of my purse and I ended up with a lovely STD.  I am so happy I did not wake up during what was probably being raped by more than one guy.  Yep, pretty darn grateful for that.

Did I report this? No, I was drinking at a frat party and I passed out, I would have been laughed out of the police station. I never told ANYONE. — Anonymous


 At 19, I was interning for a woman. Her assistant was a married man in his early thirties with 3 young children. I had very little “need” to interact with him directly outside of “hey, did Tamara leave the files with you…you get the drift. He paid a lot of attention to me, at the time, it made me uneasy but I chalked it up to him just trying to be nice. Shortly after starting, this married father started appearing at the same places I hung out…the volleyball courts at our beach where high school and college aged kids hung out, the bike trail where my friends and I would rollerblade, the ice cream shop where young adults would meet up at night. I again, chalked it up to him being immature or something and paid him no attention. The summer wound down, and my internship with it. On my last day, the office threw me a little going away party with gifts and cards, etc. I said my goodbyes and headed to the main building to hand in my badge and stuff. As I was walking to the other building I heard someone call my name. I turned around and it was Adam. He said, “I have a gift for you, it’s just from me though so open it when you get home.” I mumbled thanks and headed into Security. I got home that evening and later when my boyfriend came over I showed him the gifts I was given and remembered the card from Adam. I opened it, and my stomach went into knots. It was a $100 gift card for a piercing and tattoo parlor. The card said “I want to take you to get something pierced…my choice, call me”. My boyfriend read it and was visibly upset and said we needed to call someone. I brushed it off and said “I’m going back to school and don’t have to see him anymore. Let’s just forget it.” Two weeks later I went out to my jeep at 4:30AM to head downstate for a family reunion. When I got to the van, it had been ransacked. The sweet notes my boyfriend had left on my windshield when parked at our school or neighboring workplaces, that had been stashed in my glove box and center console were torn to shreds and scattered throughout my jeep. I had gotten home the night before at midnight, so sometime between then, and 4:30 someone had done this. I was shaking, but got on the road planning to talk to my brother. I “knew” it was Adam, but didn’t know what to do about it. I came home later that week from the reunion trip to an answering machine full of messages from my old boss. Adam had been arrested over the weekend after breaking into a random woman’s bedroom and sexually assaulting her. Her male roommate woke up to her screaming and pinned Adam while she called the police. There is no doubt in my mind that the attack was meant for me. None. — Anonymous


I was 21, home for the summer and working at a local restaurant. Our uniforms consisted of khaki skirts or shorts and a polo shirt. I had been working all week and was out of clean pants or shorts so I put on my skirt. As I walked from the bar with some drinks in my hand for a table, a bar patron reached under my skirt and grabbed my ass. Instinct kicked in and I dropped the drinks and hit him. There was no thought process, just literal animal instinct to protect myself. That man, is my friend’s father. — Anonymous


One nice thing about being deaf is that I don’t hear most of the catcalling–but I stopped riding my bike to/from the Green Line from work because I kept getting honked at and catcalled. The first instance was in 4th grade–some boy kept snapping my bra but I was so sheltered and confused I had no idea how to get him to stop or whether to report it. — Holly, Running With a Book Cart


As a young girl I had large boobs.  Before other girls did.  Got a lot of attention from boys because of that.  I was 12 when it happened.  Had a huge crush on a 7th grade boy.  Very innocent.  Another 7th grade boy apparently told all the other boys that I let him touch my boobs.  It never happened.   Thought everybody knew it never happened and. Forgot about it.  Back to my crush.  I gave him a kiss on the cheek at my 8th grade graduation.  Ran in to him over the summer a few times.  I went to a dance at the community center one night.  He was there, we walked outside to cool off.  He started grabbing at me, I said no and started running.  (Why didn’t I run back inside?). He tackled me and then told me to stop breathing so hard as he just felt away, under my shirt and inside my bra. After all, I had let someone else do it…

Because of the first lie? And then the second guys story?  I had two male classmates start to drop by.  We would talk for awhile on the porch and then I would go back in the house.  I guess they just needed to build up to grabbing at me.  About the 3rd visit.  I went in the house and I never wanted to go back out. Tried really hard to not be alone with a male for awhile.  If my husband ever grabs for a boob I go ballistic still!Anonymous


Yup. If we are speaking generally, then it goes back to when I was basically R’s age. If we are talking about the workplace, then starting with jobs in high school for sure. The thing that’s so gross about it generally is HOW young it starts. When R was a TODDLER, I was checking out at Jewel and the cashier kept saying how cute she was and how he “had a thing for blondes” and then after he gave her a sticker said, I’m not joking, “I hope she still remembers this when she turns 18.” The implication being…. disgusting.–Anonymous


The worst one was my 7th grade gym teacher. He was really sexist, and would make a lot of comments putting down the girls and their athletic abilities and how we weren’t as good/strong as the boys. I can’t remember what he said now, but I remember it used to make my stomach hurt because I was so mad and felt like I couldn’t say anything back to a teacher. One day, around the time the movie “10” came out and there was a lot of talk about rating both men and women on the 1-10 scale based on looks, the teacher had us all in the weight room. He dismissed the boys, and then went around the room and rated each girl on a scale of 1-10. He gave us all 1s, 2s, and 3s. It was so humiliating. He was just creepy, and I got a weird vibe from him even before that. Later on I heard he was charged with statutory rape for a relationship with a young student and it did go to trial, but he wasn’t convicted. His brother later lost his job coaching at a university when it came out that he admitted to having a past sexual relationship with a student when he was teaching jr. high or high school. I don’t know what was going on the house where they grew up, but it had to be something messed up that these two guys grew up thinking their behavior was OK. Or since this was back in the late 70s, maybe thinking this was OK wasn’t that far out of the norm. Other than that, there is stuff that you just come to think of as a “normal” part of dealing with creeps when you’re a woman. In junior high I had my butt grabbed in the crowded hall a few times. I would look around, but could never figure out who did it. Once (still in jr. high) some guy I didn’t know ran down the hall and then kind of slid on his knees and tried to grab them bottom of my dress and flip it up, I guess so he could try to look up my dress (I don’t think it worked). — Anonymous


It was at Madison, that night of the year when everyone has to give up their old apartment on 8/14 and can’t move in until 8/15. My roommate had stayed the summer and begged me to come down on the 14th to hang out at her boyfriend’s house with him and his crew of guys. One of his roomies had some friends there, too. While I was sitting on the front porch drinking a beer and chatting with another friend, one of the guys sat down next to me. It was a cool night and I had a blanket over my lap. The guy asked to share it, so I said sure and gave him part. The group continued chatting and suddenly this guy slid his hand up my shorts, trying to get to my crotch. I was so shocked that I just jerked my legs away – I had met this dude like an hour earlier and had maybe talked to him for five minutes. I was confused and kept chatting with the other people when boom, hand up my shorts, aggressively coming at my crotch again. I was so shocked I just wrested myself out of the blanket and walked inside. I told a female friend and she told him to back off and calm down (aside: why the f#ck wasn’t he thrown out?).

My friend and her boyfriend had disappeared, so I was looking for a spot to sleep for a few hours. I should have gone to a hotel (but I was a poor college kid). I should have gone and slept in my car (but it was filled with my stuff). At about 2 a.m. I found a bedroom floor (filled with boxes) to crash on and locked the door. A SECOND guy I had met that evening (again, friend of a friend) came to the door and begged to come in and sleep on the floor. I opened the door and said he could as long as he didn’t try to f#cking touch me. He promised and we turned out the light and laid down. Within five minutes, he was on top of me, kissing me. I asked him what in the hell he was doing and he said, “Come on, you know you want to.” Nope, I didn’t want to. Why didn’t I raise a ruckus? Why didn’t I try harder to escape? Like I said, I was lucky. I wasn’t raped. But I did things I didn’t want to do. After he was done, he fell asleep. As soon as dawn broke I snuck out to my car to hide and wait for the keys to my new place. — Anonymous


In college backstage my classmate occasionally flashed me his half aroused penis from the other side of the stage. He had affairs with young women/students and was married with kids. Few years ago he went to jail for sexually seducing underage teenage girls at his home- a home studio where he “coached” young actors. He was a drama teacher in schools.

All the times in theatre school.. My FAVORITE is when I was told I should pose nude for the art department students to get used to being naked as I would only be cast as sex roles. I did sub for someone on stage and have to flash my chest in the name of art even though it made me uncomfortable (oddly enough— in front of the man who flashed me his penis).. The next time I played the same role under a female director, I was never uncomfortable or forced to be naked.

The time my friend in LA took me to a crawfish boil and her pregnant friends husband said to me “show me your tits”. No one seemed shocked by this or that this was wrong.


You know one — of many — disturbing elements of the Me Too campaign is that my first reaction was, not me… because I have not been raped, or nearly raped. For about five minutes I reflected on that, and my own… what… good fortune? Then I finally remembered there is a huge spectrum of sexual assault and harassment, at which point I immediately recalled at least a dozen memorable occasions before I stopped counting. It’s so pervasive, so normalized, that many women don’t even think it’s happening to them, or if it is, that it’s worth mentioning until it involves physical assault, and tragically, all too often not even then. To see so many women typing those words makes me feel sick to my stomach — because of the events themselves, because of their seemingly ubiquitous frequency, because of the resulting silence, and because we live in world where someone may feel lucky to simply have not have been raped —  but also because I am somehow left simultaneously shocked, and not at all surprised, and I can’t decide which is worse.– Katie Yale


Hi, love. Just a quick note to say that I’m dealing with this horseshit right fucking now. I’m too tired and pissed off to go into detail, but let’s just say this sick asshole not only crossed the line, but has kicked my ptsd into high gear. 90 percent of dealing with this particular scumbag right now is trying not to let old fear from old shit swallow up my life in the present. I’m beyond exhausted and livid. The only reason I’m not doing the “me too” thing is that this has already consumed way too much of my time already and right now I’m just trying to keep my head clear and above water. And people know. OF COURSE me too. Because this is all of us, everywhere. — Anonymous


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