On Sunday and Monday, women across social media shared the status “me too,” a sign to others that they have been sexually harassed or assaulted. If you have been sexually harassed or assaulted, we encourage you to reach out to our sexual abuse ally Break the Silence.
We support Break the Silence Day's petition to have the statute of limitations removed in Minnesota. Sign it now to end the statute of limitations for sexual violence to create the possibility that repeat offenders might some day be held accountable.
Let us acknowledge, this movement started more than 10 years ago by Tarana Burke “as a grassroots movement to aid sexual assault survivors in underprivileged communities ‘where rape crisis centers and sexual assault workers weren’t going,'" according to Ebony.com.
Our hearts broke with each additional status. It felt like a punch to the gut as more and more women made their updates and shared their stories.
Several of us at Women’s March Minnesota were among those who spoke up. Here are some of our stories.
When I was 17, working as a waitress at Byerlys restaurant, a guy, more than twice my age asked me out. I politely declined. He showed up at my apartment a short while later, and proceeded to follow me everywhere I lived for the next 6 years. He stalked me in spite of being threatened physically by my boyfriend and maced by me. He violated two restraining orders and served jail time.
Sexual harassment f*#%ing sucks, and being stalked is a nightmare I hope no one has to ever endure. Men out there, you’re probably safer to assume the women in your life have been harassed, rather than assume they haven’t. Could you fix that issue please?
Speak with the men in your lives. Ask them to listen and to stop this behavior, to speak up when they see it happening. Help them understand that the women they know aren't immune to these situations until they change and help others change.
You won’t see a #MeToo on my personal social media not because I haven’t experienced assault and harassment but because I am afraid. Incidents of assault and sexual harassment bookend my lived experience as a woman. From the many days, my grandpa molested me as a young child to the day I found out my husband had raped another woman. In my house. While my kids were sleeping in the next room. Yet I am still too afraid to say this out loud, so instead I send this whisper into the internet and remain anonymous.
#MeToo already gave way to a new campaign: #HowIWillChange. Acknowledging the issue and learning more about it is the first step. Some are taking the next step and declaring how they intend to change.
I was 20 when I joined the Army National Guard. I was in ROTC and training to become an officer. I served in Public Affairs under a Major who wanted to be my mentor. I welcomed that.
He would make me stand on a table and sing the song to his college Alma Mater before I was dismissed for the day. He bought me things, sent me money and called me pet names. It all worsened as my years in the military went on. He reminded me one morning that no one would care if I said I was mistreated because I was just a cadet. He also set me apart from everyone else in the unit and everyone looked at me as though I wanted this to happen.
When I turned him in, with 100 pages of documentation, nothing happened. He was promoted out of the unit and forced to get counseling. He was promoted. That means he received more money, more status and better retirement.
I was plagued as the girl who turns you in. It seemed like I walked around with a giant sign on me. He received honorable discharge and went on to have a great career despite two of us coming forward.
I was sexually assaulted three months ago after meeting someone online and going out on a first date. It was the first person I met, the first date that I had after my divorce over four years ago. I feared for my life and used my wits to get away.
Afterward and, still, today I am embarrassed, feeling as if it was my own fault for getting myself into a situation that, at the time, I felt I was being smart about. I rationalized, “He did this but he didn’t do that so was it really as bad as it seemed?” because it was too hard to think about that it actually happened. I thought, if I was strong, I wouldn’t let it affect me.
Are we letting men off the hook? One writer from Huffington Post thinks so and proposes how we can hold them accountable. As she notes, "Women can turn the whole internet into a list of “Me toos,” but it won’t make a difference until men ― all men ― acknowledge how they perpetuate misogyny and commit to making a change.
I worked in sports media for several years, so sexual harassment was unfortunately part of the package. But one instance rocked me to my core. It was my senior year in college. I covered the football team for one of the student newspapers and some of my fellow reporters and I were in LA for a bowl game.
One night, as my friends kept downing drinks at the open bar in the media hotel, I decided to head up to our room to unwind and maybe read a little or watch TV. The sports editor, a friend, decided to go with me. I had no idea how drunk he was until the elevator doors closed. He pinned me in a corner, body pressed against mine, telling me how great he thought we’d be together. I politely declined, reminding him he had girlfriend, who happened to be a good friend of mine. I was stuck, unable to break free. He held my arm, moving toward our room. I texted my friends at the bar, “come upstairs now, PLEASE.” I tried to go back downstairs but he pulled his arm around me. I was lucky. Before it went any further, my friends burst into the room, saving me. They had no idea what was happening, but their mere presence caused the guy to let go of me, to step away.
I struggled the rest of the trip, watching others laugh at his drunken lunacy and sober goofiness, feeling out of place and on alert. When we returned to campus, I explained what happened to one of my friends who was there. As people found out, some thought it was a joke, a funny circumstance. But it wasn’t. I had never felt so terrified, so unsafe, so helpless.
It didn’t end there. As he was the sports editor, this guy started giving away my hard-earned stories, tore apart some of my best work and I was cast aside, as if I was a problem that needed fixing.
There is still work to be done. Support the women in your life who are going through similar experiences or simply reliving the horrors of their past that the movement has brought back to the surface. Educate those around you, especially the men and boys in your life, and share information on how they can help.