#MeToo - It Happens In Many Different Forms
Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., and God knows who else, are all like mischievous weeds – the more you try to get rid of them, the more they keep emerging with their suffocating disgrace, and tangled cover-ups. Some of these gentlemen, we’ve admired their trades of choice, but now we are all blindsided by how they’ve given into the darker side of their temptations that has caused suffering for those courageous women and men, coming forward. I can’t possibly fathom how these truth seekers had to watch their “successful” predators through the years win awards, nominations and make money while those victimized had to brush the broken pieces of their lives under the rug. 2017 seems to be the year of “The Purge.” We are living through a time where those have had enough with feeling lost in the dark, and are now shining the spotlight on sexual harassment truths.
When you see the pictures of the victims standing next to their “self-esteem captors” infamous Hollywood photos of old, you couldn’t possibly imagine that all these disgusting situations were happening. Even though it’s beyond horrible that we are finding out so many sexual harassment stories, I think it’s going to encourage numerous victims that are affected by this daily, to come forward. It shows that sexual harassment can happen anywhere, anytime and to anyone regardless of financial status or how famous you are. And if these voices we heard thus far are speaking up, then those who live outside of Hollywood should realize that - enough is enough for them too.
It’s so scary how those who are in power dangle your profession, and sense of self over your head in order to keep their sick and twisted ways thriving. How do they sleep at night and look their own family members, friends and colleagues in the eyes, knowing they are causing other beautiful lives to be shattered by their selfish, horrendous acts? Do they even realize what they are doing is wrong? Do they think it’s normal? Do they instantly forget once they commit the crime? If they get caught they are labeled as having a disorder, or profess their sexual orientation and then seek “help.” But why are they getting help? Is it because they have to in order to save their career and hope all will be forgotten? Did they have to get caught to know they have a problem? Can sexual harassers be healed? How much longer would they have hurt others before getting caught? What has truly happened in their childhood that makes harassers find healing in hurting others? There are so many questions here and I’m sure, so much more will pop up based on new names of sexual harassers that will be revealed.
We’ve heard or read these sexual harassment stories and have discovered there are so many forms/ways these crimes have been committed and how they are covered up. With that, I wanted to share my four different experiences of harassment. They may not be to the high degree of what we are learning about in the news these days, but it still leaves a powerful message that needs to be shared. I wanted to share that harassment can strike at subtle or intense levels, but still be just as inappropriate.
When these four events occurred to me, at separate times in my life, I never thought I would have the courage, or the sense to write/discuss them openly today. I never even told any of my family or friends when these events occurred. It was something that happened and either I handled it right then and there, or just didn’t want to worry anyone. Also, these instances were so shocking that you say to yourself, “How can you share something like that with others when you can’t even explain the logic of it to yourself?”
Harassment at Retail: The first experience I had was when I was working in a retail store back in the early 2000’s. I was working the Home Technology sales floor and needed to go into the stock room to acquire a phone that a customer wanted, which we didn’t have on the shelves of the sales floor. I proceeded to enter the stock room, which was in between the size of a regular closet you would have at home—and a walk-in closet – still not very big. As I head toward the back of the stock room, I noticed another coworker of mine enters behind me. I thought he also needed to get an item in the stock room for a customer. Turns out, the item he was trying to obtain, was actually me. As I turned around with the product I needed in my hand, my coworker was right in front of me and attempted to lean in to kiss me on the mouth. All at once, I assessed the situation --- I had nowhere to go because there were products behind me and facing in-front of me was my coworker who blocked the way to getting out. I immediately leaned back with whatever room there was left behind me and I said “NO!” He then proceeded to ask, “Why not?” Now for him to ask this question knowing the situation he put me in, and the fact that he was married and had children—baffles the mind!!!! I didn’t stay to answer his question. I was shockingly able to move around him with the product in my hand and walked out of the stock room. Thank God he wasn’t the type that was forceful in that he would have prevented me from leaving. I calmly went back out onto the sales floor, wrapped up the transaction with the customer, and proceeded to find my boyfriend at the time, who also worked in the store with me. When I think back now, it’s crazy how I was able to just finish the sale—probably to not cause a commotion and also because I couldn’t believe what happened. My ex-was absolutely livid as you could imagine and wanted to “handle” the situation for me himself. I didn’t want him to fight with our misguided coworker. My ex-boyfriend urged me to let our general manager know what transpired, and that I did. My general manager was equally pissed off to hear the news and from what I heard later that day, let my other co-worker “have it” and then fired him. When I described earlier that this coworker was “misguided,” it was due to him thinking that since I was dating someone at the job, he felt it was permissible for him to kiss me as well. Just absolute craziness!!!!!
Harassment During Lunch: A few years after the above situation, I found myself on the other side of not being able to speak up about what happened to me. I was in the company kitchen eating lunch with my back toward the snack vending machine. There were maybe one or two other people in the kitchen talking to me. One of the co-workers from the IT department then came into the kitchen. Whenever he entered a room or passed by my desk, I, in general, felt uncomfortable around him. He just gave off a vibe you knew you couldn’t completely trust. I noticed while working there also, he would look at me longer than he should, or just would have conversations with me that you just felt something wasn’t right. On this particular day, my IT co-worker proceeds to walk toward the vending machine behind me and chime in with the conversation I was having with my other coworkers. All of a sudden just as the other coworkers were making their way to exit the kitchen, I feel a finger tickle the middle back part of my neck. Time just stopped! I never froze so much in my life as I did at that moment – being cold on a 24 degree winter day wouldn’t make me as frigid as that moment! This man just did what he did, in such a sneaky way, that no one else in the kitchen noticed, and this very combination, made me lose my voice, my train of thought and my sense to tell someone. I think back now and I’m shocked by how I was able to speak up about someone trying to kiss me in a stock room, but this event paralyzed me for what seemed like an eternity. It was something I obviously didn’t’ expect and just lost all sense of what to do. I understand how some of these celebrities explain the shock they feel and why sometimes they can’t come forward right away. I wish I did say something though that day and I hope he didn’t’ cause any other harm to others. If so, I hope there was someone there to speak up!
Harassment on the Train: Years back, I was traveling home mid-afternoon on the D train in Brooklyn, NY. I still remember how bright the sun was shining in my train car that summer’s day. I chose to sit next to a fellow male rider, not thinking much of it, on the outside--two-seater, orange sectioned seats. As I was sitting there, deep in thought about my day, I suddenly felt something brush up against my waist. The feeling was more pronounced because the blouse that I was wearing, came up slightly above the top part of my blue jean shorts. I definitely was feeling something move past me. It took me a moment to realize what I was experiencing. I looked to my left and noticed the blacked haired man sitting next to me was trying to ever so carefully find a way to touch my waist while looking forward. I immediately sprang up out of my seat as if someone placed a torch under me, and moved fast toward the train car doors, which thankfully was leading me to my next stop. Even it wasn’t, I would have left that train car regardless.
I didn’t want to have words with this guy – I just wanted to get far away from him and remove myself from such a disgusting memory that was inexcusable! I think there may have been someone sitting opposite me on my right at that time, but once again, that person would not have noticed what happened while I was sitting there. I think that’s what makes these events so scary as its happening as well. The idea that even if there are people around you, these cowards try to perform their heinous behaviors secretly to you.
The Eyes of Harassment: My last experience I want to share with you is one that probably is the hardest to prove to someone and makes you feel beyond creeped-out when it does make its presence known. In one of the offices I’ve worked at, there was a guy that no matter what I wore, whether it was a regular work shirt, turtleneck, winter coat, etc., he felt the need to stare at my chest! I don’t ever wear anything revealing at work or anything too tight either, however, this person decided he’ll still try and find “where my chest is” with his eyes! As you can imagine, this is beyond uncomfortable, uncalled for and flat out ridiculous! It’s also hard to prove that someone stares at your chest when there has been no physical contact. It’s just another sneaky way these predators try to get their “disgusting habits in” without getting caught.
The stories I’ve mentioned above, have not affected me long term thankfully. However, there are those that still live with the pain, guilt, and fear and I pray for their swift healing and closure. These experiences have happened to me and I wanted to take this opportunity to enable those that have experienced harassment that they aren’t alone, and have perhaps felt/thought what I have. I also pray that those who have been affected will be encouraged to speak up when I didn’t. Not speaking up doesn’t make us cowards though. It’s just what happens when the shock tears through you like a sword. For some, you’re able to pull out the sword quick enough. Harassment in any form can’t be tolerated, accepted or silenced. With this new shift of truth shedding its light on the world, we can finally come closer to bringing respect and strength back to us all.