When I was in high school I was making out with a boy at a party. He tried to put his hand up my shirt. I said no. He tried again. I walked out of the room.
When I was a first-year in university, I was at the Studio in Corner Brook and the guy I was dating pushed me up the stairs because I was getting on his nerves. I stumbled. It was right in front of the bouncer who did not say a thing.
In 2003, a man watched me sleep through my apartment window in Kilbride. I didn’t know until I woke up to a rustling outside and with my pulse in my temples stuck my head out of the first-floor window and saw footprints in the snow.
Around 2007 I was down on George Street with my girlfriends and I was lagging behind them. In the distance, I could hear a group of men singing “Who Let the Dogs Out” followed by some barks and hollers. There was a straggler among that group too. When they all walked behind me, the very last one wrapped his hand around my hair as if he was making a ponytail, yanked my head back and barked in my face. It ruined my night.
During a Halloween party a guy who knew my boyfriend (now husband) and who I had hung out with numerous times before – in today’s language made popular by the President of the United States – grabbed my pussy outside of my costume and walked away like it was no big deal.
During a George Street Festival a friend and I had to use the bathroom really bad and there was a line up to the girls bathroom. There was no line to the Mens. We ran into the mens room and into the stall together to pee. All of a sudden the bathroom had four or five guys in it and one said, “You got in ok, but no one said you’re going to get out.” We gave each other concerned looks. I took her hand in mine, and I said, “On the count of three we open this door and run out of here without letting go.”
When I was home in Corner Brook about seven or eight years ago, I was at Whelan’s Gate having a smoke and a drunk guy hauled off with all of his force and smacked my ass so hard it stunned me. There were people around. I told him off. Shook while I was doing it. One girl said something to him. He probably doesn’t remember anything. I still know exactly who that was.
I used to teach at CNA in Labrador West and I was having a few drinks with former coworkers one Friday night and we piled into my friends van to go back to her place to continue the party. The oldest man in the group, minimum thirty years my senior who was obviously drunk, turned around and placed his hands on my breasts outside my jacket. He said nothing. Everyone saw it. I pushed him away. The night carried on.
That is a list of my “Me Toos” that I made in half an hour and off the top of my head. A list that could likely be longer, but sadly, who can keep track. A list that I see mirrored in almost every one of my girlfriends. And I am one of the lucky ones. I’ve never been raped or seriously assaulted. I have wonderful relationships with men including family members, friends and coworkers, but this is a small slice of what the Me Too movement is about. My experience is the norm, a norm that, while not devastating, tends to ruin nights and moods and memories. A norm that is far too accepted as the way it is.
This site is for any resident of Newfoundland and Labrador regardless of sexual orientation and gender to openly share their stories of sexual or gender-based violence. It doesn’t have to be extreme. It doesn’t have to be graphic. It doesn’t have to be this big life-changing moment. Or it can be any or all of those things. It just has to be something you want to share, something you need to let go of, something you need to say for whatever reason that is important to you whether it’s two sentences or two pages. Something that pisses you off that you’ve never really talked about before. Something that has saddened you to your core. Something that was never your fault to begin with, but somehow in the years or months or days since it happened, you’ve claimed ownership over it even though it was never yours to keep.
My reason for sharing: I’m tired of pretending like everything’s ok. I’m tired of accepting the fact that I can’t safely walk home at night. I’m tired of hearing about horrible stories of violence in the news when it seems no one takes action. I’m tired of hearing about people’s days, nights, lives being ruined by gender-based violence. I’m tired of keeping quiet. Maybe you are too.
For more information on how and what to share, go to the Share Your Story page in the top menu.