I was back and forth about whether I should write about my personal experiences with sexual harassment and assault since I already mentioned it a while back in My Story II – The Downward Spiral, but after what I was seeing earlier today on Twitter, I decided I need to say something. I am extremely pissed off about what I saw today – the incredible hate, ignorance, demoralization, and politicizing directed towards those who have been stepping forward. What these people passing judgement do not seem to understand, is that this is a huge issue that has been going on for far too long. This is NOT a political phenomena, quit accusing the brave people stepping forward of having a liberal political agenda – that is absolute bullshit. Just because you have never experienced sexual harassment and/or assault does not mean it doesn’t happen. This is something that happens on a daily basis around the world to all genders, and people of every color, creed, nationality, sexuality, etc. I am well aware that there are other atrocities also taking place daily around the world, but that does not mean this issue should be trivialized. Also, quit playing the blame game by saying accusers should have stepped forward immediately rather than waiting – there are many reasons why those who experience harassment and/or assault do not come forward straight away; one of the main reasons is because often the perpetrator is a person in power over the victim and the victim can’t just come forward. Never mind the fact that the accuser is often treated as someone who is being ‘opportunistic’ or as someone who wants to intentionally harm the perpetrator. This type of thinking is another reason why people do not come forward – that they won’t be taken seriously, in the case of harassment, it’s my words against yours, and guess who is typically going to win that argument? Of course, the person in power; and if that person has enough money, they will use it to bribe the accuser to keep quiet or hire good lawyers who will help sweep it under the rug. The reason you see what is currently going on – in this case, women in Hollywood – all of a sudden stepping out at once is because there is strength in numbers. Once people start speaking up, it helps others who have had the same experiences have the strength and courage to say something.
As for me – I already went into as much detail as I will go into about my assaults (see above link), so I will discuss harassment here. Roughly ten years ago, I held a job in an office ran by all men, with the exception of one woman. We had four male bosses who ran what we all referred to as the old boys’ club because they were always working to cover for each other, and played a power game over the employees. It is also worth noting that of the approximately 50 employees in this office who reported to these men, almost all were female who had similar physical characteristics (that the bosses deemed attractive). The sexual harassment (and gestures from one in particular) from our supervisors was atrocious, and it went unchecked because they used fear to keep the staff quiet. The very small handful of male employees also participated in this harassment. I worked in this office/environment for three years and endured this because I was in a situation where my family depended on my income and there were few options for employment in the town we lived in. At one point, it got to be too much and I even spoke with quite a few of the ladies in the office about us all going together to report what was going on, and they did not want to because they feared being blacklisted by the employer. One woman even went so far as to say we needed to be very careful about accusations that could damage the men’s careers. What the hell?? Why is it people continue to think about how the outcome will affect the perpetrator?? This is part of the reason this issue continues…this, plus creating fear is why this becomes a vicious cycle. I asked this one woman in particular why she was so concerned about the men, even when she acknowledged that the behavior was unacceptable, and she replied that she just ignores the comments and gestures, and brushed it off as ‘boys being boys’. The truth is, this type of thinking is beyond inexcusable and is a major factor in why this type of behavior has gone unchecked for so long. Sexual misconduct often causes long lasting psychological scars in those on the receiving end. Many people find themselves needing regular therapy and even prescriptions to be able to function from day to day. Sadly, some turn to substances to help them escape the constant reminder of what happened to them. There is also a sense of shame and guilt that is extremely difficult to grapple with, and many struggle with that for a very long time. As I look back, I realize that it was during the time I worked in that office that my drinking started spiraling out of control, and I sank into a very deep depression. Thankfully, with a lot of work, I am sober today and moving on, but nothing will erase these memories from my past. So, to those disbelievers and others passing judgement, I hope you never have to experience or endure sexual harassment and/or assault, and I hope the same to those you love. Please show some compassion to those who have come forward, and bravely shared their story, they have already been through enough, don’t add more negativity to it.