In today’s time, we hear quite a bit about sexual harassment, molestation and the like. I cannot count the amount of times that I’ve personally read the headlines or heard about it on TV or have been caught up in conversation about this very topic. Unfortunately, this is something that has been going on since the beginning of time. There are so many people who have been affected and who have kept quiet about it either because of fear or embarrassment or both. When I was growing up, I’m sure it was happening but certain topics were deemed taboo back then. However, if you were exposed to this, you knew it was wrong because it just didn’t feel right.
I can recall four separate incidents that affected me: Someone who was very close to me had been drinking and touched my face inappropriately, but then thought about it and it never, ever happened again. I must have been around 12 years of age. He and I never spoke of it, and life went on. Did I say anything to anyone? No. I dropped it because it was the only time it occurred.
A family member asked me to go down the basement with him to see his fish. When I got down there, he moved closer to me but I didn’t think anything of it until someone started down the basement steps and he moved away. I was probably around the age of 13 or 14 when this occurred.
I used to work with a guy who was old enough to be my dad. He would come over to my desk and say inappropriate things, which I typically ignored; however, it could have definitely been deemed sexual harassment in the work place. One day I was sitting at my desk when he came by. For whatever reason, he felt the need to comment on me getting a hair cut. He had the audacity to say that I didn’t ask his permission. Well, all bets were off at this point. When he went back to his cubicle, I marched over there and let him have it. I told him that I had never said anything out-of-the-way to him so I couldn’t figure out how me cutting my hair was any of his business, and why he felt the need to say inappropriate things. He never spoke to me again. Personally, I didn’t care. I was early 20s during this incident.
I had almost completely forgotten about a time, when I was around 9 or 10 years of age, that one of the neighborhood boys (who was older than we were), would chase us so that he could touch our backsides. Those of us who didn’t like it, ran as fast as we could, including climbing over fences, to get away from him. There were girls who liked it and they would, therefore, trail behind.
Sadly, today we have to teach our young girls (and boys, these days) about how to protect themselves from such situations. We teach them about appropriate and inappropriate behaviors and inappropriate touches as well as to what to look out for so that they don’t fall victim.
Although my story is not one that ended in tragedy, thank God, there are many people who have experienced true trauma by the way of harassment, molestation and yes, unfortunately, even rape. No one should ever have to endure this. No means no!