Me Too: Utah Women Share Stories Of Assault And Harassment
Over the weekend the hashtag “Me Too” went viral on social media as women and men shared stories of sexual assault and harassment. By Monday afternoon, the hashtag had been Tweeted more than half a million times.
KUER made an open call for Utahns to tell us their experiences with assault and recorded the stories of four women. Below are excerpts from conversations with the women, edited for time and clarity.
When I was really young, about four years old, I was molested by a foster child that was living in my family’s home.
It was something that was kind of traumatizing. I'm gay and the child who molested me was a girl. So when I was really wrestling with my sexuality as a young person, I thought that there was something really, really wrong with me. And that it was probably because of that one thing that happened to me when I was four years old. I thought that I was really irreversibly damaged and that was why.
It's really sad to see how many women—and men—have had these experiences where someone has violated them. A lot of times the victims feel shame and that's definitely something that I have experienced. But being able to talk about it can relieve some of that, and can also prevent things from happening in the future. I think making sure that people are held accountable for their actions is really important.
I was 19 years old, working in a very male-dominated sector of work. Most of the people I worked with were a good 20-25 years older than me.
One evening, I just got home and had a text message. I opened it up to a nude photo of a male coworker who was actually one of my bosses.
The shocking part now, looking back on it, wasn't so much that he had sent me a nude photo. That's awful and disgusting, especially when it's unwarranted and unwanted. But I immediately felt like, “What did I do wrong? Did I do something that he thought that this was OK? Did I say something where he thought I wanted this?”
But obviously a looking back now, it wasn't my fault. I didn't do anything.
Me coming out and saying “Yes, me too,” I normally wouldn't. I'm not the type of social media person to get out there and say “Oh yeah this has happened to me” or get on the bandwagon when something like this happens, but I believe that this is a really important issue. When I see other people posting about it—that other men and women have been put in the same circumstances or they've had something happen to them—it just makes me feel like I'm not alone.
I was 18 years old and he was 24. We were dating—not officially, but just kind of dating.
I remember he always was telling me that he wanted to show me something at his house. I was in the neighborhood one time and I told him I'd stop by but I didn't want to come inside. I made it a thing to tell him I don't want to come inside. I get to his house and he says it's a book he wants to read to me, it would be better if we sat on his couch. He insisted. So I went inside and I remember saying with a forced smile, “I’ve got to go. Like I’ve got to go.”
That's when he took me downstairs and he laid me on his bed. He started kissing me and touching me and I didn't aggressively fight it.
But I kept trying to turn away and cover my body to avoid as much of it as I could. It was obvious I wasn't accepting it.
I kept saying, “I’ve got to go, I’ve got to go.” He said, “I don't want to do anything, I just want to see.”
That’s when I just went and limp and he started to take my clothes off. And I just laid there and let him with tears on my face. He took my shirt off and he took my bra off, and he touched me and kissed me. And then he said, “That's all. That's all.”
I've only ever told one person. I only ever told my brother. So, I think it's important that women should be able to get their word out get their voice out.
When I was 11 years old, I was in the parking lot of a mall, Fashion Place Mall, in Murray, where I still live. And a man drove up and asked for help, asked for directions, and I walked up to the car and looked down and he was masturbating in the car. I ran away. He laughed. That was a first really public incident that I remember.
I've had my rear end grabbed. It's also an endless stream of cat-calling and an immediate flip from benevolent sexism to hostile sexism when I don't respond with gratitude to that kind of attention. And that is just recurring, I think, for most women. But this is also something that men face and trans individuals and non-binary individuals, in particular, because this is a form of gendered policing.
I've been very touched with what I've seen. I've loved it. I think vulnerability is strength and it is a vulnerable moment but it's freeing. It's powerful for people to know they're not alone. It's powerful to speak. We’re only as sick as our secrets. Being able to do this and feel solidarity and work in solidarity with the people around us is very empowering.