Never before have I seen two simple words have such an impact on so many people. The first friend I saw the ‘me too’ from had told me about some of her experiences with sexual harassment and assault so I already knew she’d been a victim of it. But her post was followed by ‘me too”s from friends of mine who had never told me about being victims of sexual assault/harassment before so it was news to me. And it wasn’t just two or three or four or five of my friends who posted “me too’. Dozens of them did.
On an abstract level I knew how common sexual assault and harassment were. On an abstract level I felt sad for all the victims of it that were nameless and faceless to me. This Facebook campaign took the issue of sexual assault/harassment out of the realm of the abstract and in to the realm of real life for me. All those victims of it were not just numbers without a name or a face but people I knew and cared about. Their experiences were not statistics, they were tragedies.
After I’d been seeing ‘me too’ statuses for about 24 hours I wrote a status that said “All the ‘me toos’ I’m seeing are heartbreaking. I’m lucky to not be able to say ‘me too’.”
That status wasn’t entirely truthful though. Years ago I’d had a scary experience with sexual harassment that left me feeling quite shaken. However since I hadn’t been raped or even touched I wasn’t sure if my experience counted.
The next day I decided that my experience did count. I know feeling like their experience ‘doesn’t count’ is one of the reasons women stay silent about being sexually harassed or assaulted. Even though the campaign only called for women to say ‘me too’ and not to share their stories, I decided I wanted to share mine. I wrote:
“I said I couldn’t say ‘me too’ yesterday but there was that time a strange guy banged on my windows at night, saying “Hey baby, my name is Mike, I’m going to stick it in you.” I called the police. They asked if I was drunk and then they suggested it was an April Fools joke. The police came over and when they left the guy started harassing me again. I called the police again but they didn’t come back again. They told me to go to sleep but sleep didn’t come easy that night. Being threatened with sexual assault was terrifying for me so I can only imagine what people who actually have been sexually assaulted go through. Shame on all the “Mikes “out there and shame on all the gaslighting, victim blaming, minimizing law enforcement officials and members of society. My heart goes out to everyone who’s been a victim of sexual assault or harassment. Me too.”