#MeToo: My Story of Sexual Harassment.
In recent news the topic of sexual harassment has been at the top of news segments for weeks now. The conversations started after famous actress Ashley Judd told her story of sexual harassment.
Judd accused Harvey Weinstein, a very powerful film producer/executive, of sexually harassing her more than 2 decades ago. After Judd told her story, a slew of women followed with their experiences of being sexually harassed by Weinstein. So far more that 40 women have come forward. This all comes on the heals of earlier news that involved women being sexually assaulted and harassed by 80’s icon Bill Cosby.
The stories of sexual harassment by Weinstein are all very similar. All accounts of the stories are disturbing to say the least, but what’s even more disturbing is that it took more than 20 years before someone had the courage to come forward.
This same scenario has played out over and over again for centuries. Men in power make propositions and then threaten retaliation if victims do not comply. Furthermore, those same powerful men rarely suffer the consequences of their actions.
Although these are famous people, so many women have experienced this type of treatment and kept quiet because of fear. I have had this experience too and today I’m going to share my story with you.
My story (#MeToo)
My story is about a young girl growing up in a small town and being harassed by a grown man.
I was almost 15 at the time that this happened. At that age, I was very tall and very curvy and I looked like a grown women. Now, I didn’t wear a lot of make up, nor did I do anything to draw any unwanted attention to myself, but my long legs made me stand out. It wasn’t long before boys started to notice which is normal at that age, but what I didn’t expect was that grown men noticed too.
I remember walking to the store for my mom or with friends and seeing grown men staring at me. It made me nervous and uneasy. They should not have been looking at me that way. The stares were inappropriate and creepy. The sad part is that these were men who knew my father. They were men who were related to my friends. None of them were strangers which made me feel even more disgusted.
After a while I got use to the stares and I did my best to ignore them. It happen so often that I started to believe that it’s just a normal part of growing up. But, that all changed when one of them got the courage to pursue me.
Now, at barely 15 years old I was a little naïve when it came to boys. I definitely like them and had a few crushes, but I was behind most of my peers when it came to anything else. So, the thought of a man making advances towards me never crossed my mind.
This man came in the form of a Shepard, but he was nothing but a wolf. He was the older cousin of one of my close friends, but he was my father’s age. Yes, my fathers age.
At first he seemed like the cool older cousin of a friend of mine who liked to hang around . He was at her family outings and always made his way to she and I. Like I mentioned before, I was green so I thought nothing of it. Until one day my friend seem to be very annoyed by him. I’m not sure if he asked her about me or if she picked up on the vibe he had around me. She was very protective of me and begin to find reasons to leave anytime he came around.
The Courage of a Predator
Then, one day out of the blue he called my home. Now, when I answered the phone he knew my voice right away. I thought he was my uncle and proceeded to talk to him. My uncle called periodically to speak to my mom (His Sister) and always tried to disguise his voice. When I’d call him out he would jokingly say “No boys better not be calling for you.” Well, this time the man on the other end of the line wasn’t my uncle. It was my friends cousin, we’ll call him Quincy.
When I realized it was him I was terrified. How could he be so bold as to call my home? Although a wave of panic passed over me, I still wanted to believe that he wouldn’t be doing this. I settled my nerves and said, “My dad isn’t here, but I can tell him that you called.” The inexperienced trusting girl in me wanted him to say, “okay and thank you.” But the response I got was, “I didn’t call to talk to him. I called to talk to you.”
My heart begin to race. I began to experience that uneasy feeling that I got from the gawking eyes of inappropriate men. Fear came over me like a wave.
What do I do? What do I say? I know what I need to say, but how do I say it and still remain respectful to an elder?
Yes, being respectful was on my mind. I was taught to be polite, and kind, and respectful. I was so confused. I’m sure he felt my discomfort because he ended the conversation with, “I was just calling to see how you were doing.” then hung up. After that phone call, I suffered what I know now to be anxiety. It lasted for a day or two while I figured out whether to tell someone or not.
I decided not to.
Predators are Persistent
After that first phone call, Quincy became bold with his advances. He sought me out at events and seem to be in places that I’d never seen him in before. My silence gave him a false sense of security because he became more and more persistent as time went on. I handled it by ignoring him. I guess this made him feel like he needed to up his game because he began to try to entice me with money and promises of shopping sprees. Which, of course, I was not interested in. I knew never to be alone with him and never to entertain his advances, but that didn’t stop him. It seem to add fuel to the fire.
The Predator Closes In
Then, one day during the summer when both my parents were away, my older brother grabbed his basket ball and left the house to go and play ball. Not more that 10 minutes later there was a knock at the door. I answered the door and it’s him!
I was terrified. He asked if my dad was home and when I said no, he asked if my brother was home. I realized that he had to have seen my brother down the street playing ball and that he knew that I was alone. I was petrified. This man had basically stalked me and now he was at my door.
After his last question, his body language changed. His shoulders relaxed and he shifted his weight. He cocked his head to one side and the look in his eyes went from inquisitive to lust. Then he told me that I was so sexy and that I shouldn’t look at him in his eyes because I “do something to him.”
I knew then that I had to stand up to him and that being respectful was no longer on the table. I told him that he needed to leave now and that if he didn’t leave me alone I was going to tell my dad. His shoulders tensed up, his posture straighten and the look of lust left his eyes. He said that he didn’t mean anything by it and left. As, I write these words I can only think that this story could have went differently. Thank God that it didn’t.
I guess what I said took his courage away because he slacked off for a while. He never gave up though, not fully, but the advances became less and he didn’t try to engage as much.
This was a 30 something year old man! I was about 14-15 at the time. My God.
Let’s change the culture
I wanted to tell my story and send this message to women. We teach our girls to be lady-like, prim, proper, quiet and respectful. But we don’t teach them about the demons of the world and if we do it’s often way to late.
My mom noticed that her little girl was blossoming and she was prepared. She didn’t just have “the Talk” she got really candid with me. My Mom made me understand that some men would try to take advantage of me because of the way that I looked. She told me how and what to look for. We talked about the things they may say and do like offering gifts and being overly friendly. Some may say that she took a little of my innocence away, but thank God for it because I was prepared when the wolf came. I knew how he hunted and I was prepared.
Please don’t be afraid to talk to your daughters about these things. Many believe that doing so will cause them to grow up to fast. Well, the world forces us to. And, if you don’t have that talk, music, movies, and misdirected friends will do it for you.“Speak with both boys and girls about Sexual Harassment. Let’s not leave our boys out of the conversation.“
But, let’s not stop there. Talk to your boys as well. Teach them how to treat women.
This is something that many moms do not do. We are all to quick to let our daughters know how to behave like ladies, yet never speak to our sons about behaving like gentleman. The culture of controlling and hushing girls while justifying the overly aggressive behavior of boys has to stop. Nothing will change if we don’t start to realize how we all play a part in change.
I didn’t say anything about being harassed because I was afraid that I would be accused of being “fast”. Something that I had heard older women saying about other girls before. I didn’t want to bring attention to myself and I didn’t want to be talked about one way or the other.
Even though those were the thoughts of a young girl, they were also the thoughts of grown women like the ones preyed on by Harvey Weinstein. They thought no one would believe them, that they would attract unwanted attention, and that they would suffer consequences by way of their careers. So they did exactly what that 15 year girl did all those years ago. They shut their mouths, grinned, and bared it.
Just like us girls were taught to do.
Controlling and hushing girls while justifying the overly aggressive behavior of boys has to stop. Click To Tweet