It's made me think about whether or not I should write about my experiences. I've had many.
I'd say the first serious incident was right around this time of year when I was 10 years old. We went to the mall and my little brother wanted to go see Santa. My mother was all for it, of course, wanted pics of us with Santa and all that.
My brother wanted me to come with, so we both approached Santa and were invited to sit on his lap. As soon as I went to sit down, Santa squeezed my butt. I was shocked and stood bolt upright. My mother asked what was wrong. I couldn't think of anyway to explain what had happened right then and there. My brother was 4 years old and pleading with me to be with him. I hesitantly returned to my brother and Santa. I didn't want creepy Santa to touch me anymore, so I avoided contact as much as a I could, but it was impossible to completely avoid during the ritual of saying what you want for Christmas and getting a pic taken. I'm sure I looked deeply uncomfortable through the whole thing. I know my mother has a photo somewhere of that awful day. :(
I did tell my mother what had happened afterwards. She agreed it was terrible and she promised she wouldn't make sit on any mall Santa's lap ever again.
When I think about it though, I'm not sure that was actually my first incident of sexual harassment. I remember very distinctly how several boys broke into the playground bathroom when I was in elementary school, so they could catch me with my pants down. I felt horribly embarrassed and I was paranoid about using that bathroom from then on, concerned it would happen again. After that I would always brace a leg on the door if I used THAT bathroom. I don't really recall if that was before or after the bad Santa experience.
I'm also pretty sure I was sexually abused as a child. I don't remember the incidents very clearly, but I do have some fuzzy, unpleasant memories. I know I was at least sexually harassed by my step-father who interrupted my showers and walked in on me when I was changing to comment on my "peach fuzz" and "thunder thighs", stealing my towel, not letting me cover myself...
The first sexual experience I clearly remember was being raped. It was my first year of college. I went to visit the guy I was supposedly dating and found him making out with another girl. Upset, I went to hang out with some friends who helped me drink away my sorrows. One of the guys there, who was a friend of a friend, managed to talk me into hanging out with just him. He volunteered to walk me back to my dorm room. When we got there he started kissing me, which I was fine with at the time. Then he started trying to take off my clothes and make out with me. I wasn't comfortable with that and told him so. I told him kisses and cuddling were ok, but I didn't want anything more than that. He was insistent, pinned my arms down, and didn't stop even when I clearly said NO, STOP, NO!
I talked to one of my female friends about the experience later and found out he had done the same thing to her! She told me he had done that to other women too. I felt better and worse at the same time. It was kind of a relief to find out it wasn't just me, that other women had the same experience and also felt violated. I also felt terrible and angry that this guy has gotten away with date raping multiple women. I told my male friend who was his friend about it; he didn't believe me and dismissed the accusations saying they couldn't be true because his friend was a "good guy".
I was grateful when the following year, the college had a male police officer visit the campus to do a presentation about violence against women. The officer discussed date rape and showed a number of examples of how violence against women is often glorified and romanticized in everything from movies featuring "sweet surrender" to fashion ads containing elements of harassment, violence and abuse portrayed as "sexy".
And then there's all the mild harassment over the years, catcalls, lewd comments, etc.
I recall once I was at a restaurant with my family when I was about 12 years old and I had a guy come up and whisper into my ear in graphic detail what he wanted to do to me sexually. I guess maybe he thought I was a college student? I don't know why I even bother coming up with excuses for his behavior.
I was equally offended when I had a near identical experience when I was in college. I was at church and it was after the service and some random guy came up and start whispering graphic details in my ear. Again, I was offended and it turned my stomach. I thought it was SO inappropriate.
So, yeah, I could go on. I've had a lot of unpleasant experiences. I am one of the many women saying "me too".
I decided to post this as part of my participation in the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence.