People keep sending me their #MeToo stories, to finally be heard and believed.
The sheer numbers of stories are also the message.
As reported in the New York Times Feb. 21, a new U.S. national online survey conducted in January reported that 81 percent of women and 43 percent of men said they’d experienced sexual harassment or assault over their lifetimes — higher than most other studies and polls have suggested.
#MeToo – “I was 14 when I was repeatedly sexually abused by one of my dad's drinking buddies.
“I was shy and awkward, living in poverty with an unemployed alcoholic father and a distanced mother. I felt very isolated.
“The predator knew it was unlikely that I’d tell anyone.
“I’m in my mid-50's now, well-adjusted, run a successful business, have a happy marriage.
“But I’m still needing to heal from the guilt and shame because I let it happen.”
#MeToo – “At 21 I was a student optician working with an optometry company’s optometrist. He had three daughters.
“He was constantly flicking my butt. He tried to kiss me and would comment on how "sexy" I looked in a particular dress.
“I never told any one. I was so embarrassed. I thought I must look cheap for him to be doing this.
“I knew if I said anything I’d be the one the company would let go.
“After working with him for five years I grew enough courage and said, "If you ever touch me again, I’m going to cut your tie." He never touched me again.”
#MeToo – “I was harassed at work including by my supervisor - sexual touches, and grabbing me from behind.
“After Human Resources became aware I was forced into a “resolution” to increase one-on-one, in-person work with the supervisor by transferring him to my worksite.
“I lasted only two more weeks before needing crisis psychiatric treatment.
“To “cheer me up,” my union sent emails including graphic sexual images including captions of “bitch,” “PMS,” and “have my way with you.”
“My company had a harassment procedure and code of conduct but never applied it. (HR never investigated).”
#MeToo – “I was nine when my brother, 14, started coming into my bedroom at night. He threatened me with punishment if my parents ever found out.
“It led to years of poor school and behaviour performance followed by parental punishment.
“Thanks to a guidance counsellor, at 14, I began to scream whenever my brother entered my bedroom.
“That’s what stopped the five years of sexual assault.
“Three years later, I moved out. In my 20's I told my mother what happened. She accused me of having “false memory syndrome” and making up stories.
“Besides, she stated, if my brother had done that to me, I had to understand that he had needs, he has trouble coping and we have to give him what he wants.”
#MeToo – “When my older brother died, his former girlfriend told me that he’d divulged that he’d been sexually abused by one of our parish priests.
“He’d never told our parents, just as I had never told them that he had abused me over several months when I was 13, leaving me feeling helpless and paralyzed with shame and anxiety.
“As an older adult now, aware of his being abused years before, I grieve for what my brother suffered.
“I believe that if he hadn’t been sexualized by that predatory priest, there’s a good chance he would not have come after me.”
Reader’s Commentary - “The #MeToo movement is a witch hunt. With notable exceptions, there are no investigations.
“It’s scary how quickly a man’s livelihood can be destroyed with no due process, no day in court, or any other venue for vindication.”
Ellie – Throughout my publishing these stories, no names or locales have ever been used.
The point has been the emotional, mental, and physical harm people have suffered from these incidents that occurred in their own homes, in ordinary workplaces, on the streets.
It’s the culture of acceptance and disbelief that these men as well as women have been writing about. Their points were made.
A witch-hunt is equally unacceptable to me.
I’ve run these columns periodically, while maintaining the regular column fare of different relationship issues people raise with me.
But I couldn’t ignore the flood of #MeToo stories during this period of heightened awareness.
Hopefully, it’s opened the minds and hearts of other readers.
Tip of the day:
The #MeToo survey reveals how pervasive sexual assault and harassment have been for years.