“If you’re a man accused of sexual assault, you’re innocent until proven guilty, but if you’re a woman who was assaulted, you’re considered a liar until proven truthful.”
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has brought the #MeToo movement back into the spotlight, and that’s a good thing. It’s been taken out of the news cycle too soon because there’s so much news these days. We are bombarded with shiny new stories what feels like nearly every hour.
I know some people don’t believe Ms. Ford because of the timing of her coming forward, but I do.
I’ve been sexually assaulted on a public bus in full view of other passengers who did nothing — I was 15 or 16 and taking the bus home from school.
One of the worst experiences from when I was a teenager was when a friend’s dad came up from behind me while I was cooking eggs in his home. He had his arms around me and was grinding his penis into my buttocks. I stood stock still and waited for it to be over. Nobody was around. Little did I know, he had been grooming me for weeks to be his girlfriend. I was 16.
I was fondled while talking on a public telephone when I was 22 and unemployed; I didn’t have a phone inside my apartment and I was being interviewed by my potential future boss so I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t do anything.
I’ve been sexually harassed at every single job I’ve ever had. I left one job after only two days. One man lost his job the day I finally had the courage to report him — the only reason I did was because he was starting to stalk me and I was beginning to fear for my life.
One man lost his partnership — an expensive firing.
And one man was threatened with being shown the door if he didn’t leave me alone but he didn’t. I just stopped reporting him because it was useless.
I’ve had more sexual assaults and more sexual harassment at work than what can be reasonably listed in one Medium article. And I’m only one person.
Am I anything special? Honestly and humbly, no.
The behavior I’ve experienced has left me afraid to go back out into the world and work for fear that more of the same will be directed at me.
The behavior I experienced has left me nearly paralyzed.
I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford because even though the first abuse I experienced occurred nearly 40 years ago, I remember it well.
Can I tell you what day of the week the abuse happened? Do I recall what month? What was I wearing? What was he wearing? Who had I been with? What else do I remember? Were there any witnesses and what are their names?
I only remember the house I was in and what I was doing when I was a 16-year-old girl in the crosshairs of a pedophile. I don’t remember how I got away from him but I fortunately did. I remember the trauma, and I remember his name. I will always remember his name.
I told my girlfriend about what her dad had done thinking she would take my side, and swore her to secrecy because I was so ashamed. She told her mom. Her mom confronted her husband. He threatened me. He told me that if I ever told anyone, he’d get ‘Tiny’ after me. I knew Tiny. Tiny was just the opposite. He was a 6'5", 350 pound man.
The thing is, after all I went through, nobody believed me, so I never mentioned it again even though the memory is forever with me.
Sexual assault, sexual harassment, and all other victims of unwanted attention need to be given the opportunity to share their stories without fear. Men and women need to listen without judgment.
Although I know Dr. Christine Blasey Ford will not testify before the Senate until Monday, I will spend the rest of the week reflecting on all my #MeToo moments, and wishing her strength.
She is a hero to me and to all the others who stayed silent.