In discussing the #MeToo movement in the office, we realized that every single one of us has at least one, if not multiple stories to tell. What this movement demonstrates is the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and assault. It’s not a symptom of just one industry; it’s everywhere. Despite considering only sharing one blog post, we soon realized we had too much to say. This blog post is one in a series of our stories, all of which can be read here.
Us too. Too much.
When the term “sexual assault” is said, all the faces of women I know that have been affected float through my head. My mother, my best friend, countless friends and acquaintances, and myself have all had our trust in the world tested by disgusting humans who seem to think it is their right to touch our bodies, uninvited.
Mine was at the hands of a college acquaintance (85 to 90 percent of sexual assaults reported by college women are perpetrated by someone known to the victim) whom I trusted. We had gone out with a big group of friends downtown, and he needed a place to stay for the night so of course I offered my couch; why wouldn’t I, after all? He was a friend and we’d known each other for years.
Later that night, I was shaken out of my sleep by the feeling of hands aggressively going up the pyjamas I was wearing; touching me, uninvited, while I slept. I froze with fear, rolled over, tightened my blanket, and pretend to continue to sleep while I assume he snuck back out of my room. In hindsight I wish I had said something in the moment, but I just had no idea what to do or if he would become aggressive.
When I woke up I tried to convince myself that maybe it was a dream, but I knew it wasn’t and I couldn’t let it go. I called the perpetrator to let him know I knew what he had done, that he was a horrible human, and that he was never welcome in my home or around any of my friends or the people I loved. It was met with tears and apologies, which I assume came from the shame he must have felt and the fear I would tell our mutual friends. I never pressed charges, and I haven’t seen or heard from him since.
This is the most extreme sexual misconduct I’ve experienced, but by no means the only one. Taxi drivers, men in bars, and random men on the street have all made comments and uninvited advances. I count myself lucky that nothing “too extreme” has happened to me, as I know girls who have been violently sexually assaulted and it has completely changed their lives. That being said, any sexual misconduct is a gross misuse of trust, and it needs to be recognized and punished. I’m so happy that the #MeToo movement is making an appearance on social media, and giving women a platform to share their stories. Always know, you’re not alone.