Sexually Harassed or Assaulted? #MeToo: We Are Members of a Club We Never Wanted to Join by Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead

Headlines Opinion
10 months ago

To all the women declaring “Me too” in the most public of ways: I see you, I hear you, I am one of you. Thank you for your courage. I’m seeing #metoo over and over again and I wish I were surprised but I’m not, and there’s something so heartbreaking and infuriating about that. We’re all members of a club that we never wanted to join; our membership is infinite.

The original request was for “everyone who has been sexually harassed or assaulted” to post “me too” so that “we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” I’d like to believe that more and more of us are beginning to sense it, to realize that people, women mostly, whom we love and care about, have been sexually harassed and assaulted. Just imagine all the women who are privately proclaiming, “Me, too.” If everyone came forward, the number would be that much greater.

Just pause for a moment and think of the pervasiveness of this problem. Men, if you didn’t know how widespread sexual assault and harassment were before, you know now. We must do better for our daughters and our sons and our society and the whole damned world. We must speak up. We must be allies and not just witnesses. We must examine – and change – how we talk about sexual assault and sexual harassment and pregnancy and violence.

“We talk about how many women were raped last year, not about how many men raped women. We talk about how many girls in a school district were harassed last year, not about how many boys harassed girls. We talk about how many teenage girls ... got pregnant last year, rather than how many men and boys impregnated teenage girls … So you can see how the use of the passive voice has a political effect. [It] shifts the focus off of men and boys and onto girls and women. Even the term ‘violence against women’ is problematic. It’s a passive construction; there’s no active agent in the sentence. It’s a bad thing that happens to women, but when you look at that term 'violence against women,' nobody is doing it to them. It just happens to them … Men aren’t even a part of it.” – Jackson Katz

Me too. Her too. #yesallwomen #ibelieveyou

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Elisa All Schmitz 30Seconds
Thank you, Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead , for writing this. It speaks to me, and so many others, so deeply. I'm not exactly sure when it started for me, but it has been there as long as I can remember. Since junior high, for sure. One memory that is particularly upsetting is being sexually harassed at one of my first jobs in high school. I didn't know what to call it at the time, but just knew I had to quit. How sad that I lost an opportunity to grow with that company, and how sad that so many women also lose opportunities, and much, much worse, because of sexual harassment and assault. To my fellow women and girls who go through this, I see you and hear you and I am one of you. Thank you, Jackson Katz, for bringing men into this. They are the key to making change happen. #metoo #Ibelieveyou #yesallwomen
Kristy Dominiak
I am grateful for this #MeToo movement & your voice. When we can take the shame out of the problem and bring the darkness to light, then change & healing can happen. Thank you for sharing your voice! #MeToo #D2L
Stacey Roberts
Given my experience, harassment comes in more forms than just men harassing women, whether it be sexually or menacing or both. When I was in my mid 20s I was in between jobs and trying to decide if I was going to go into a 4 yr masters program to further my education. My roommate had a friend who had 3 children and was needing a temporary nanny, so I took the job. Within the first week she started remarking on how beautiful my knees were (I know!), then she’d find a dress of hers that she’d want me to try on. If I happened to be invited to go to a movie or out to dinner with a friend, she’d tell me I shouldn’t go with that person because they were no good, so I wouldn’t. She also started making backhanded degrading remarks of something I did such as cooking that would make me feel I’d disappointed her, then she’d turn around and compliment me on something else and I feel I’d pleased her. It steadily progressed til one day she jumped in the shower with me. That’s when I knew I should’ve been listening to my inner voice that was telling me what was going on, but they were LDS and so was I so I kept telling myself an active member of the church wouldn’t do this. I didn’t sleep the whole night and finally got up at 4 am, packed my things and left. I’ve never been harreassed by a man, and even though I jumped out of the shower as soon as she jumped in I felt so violated and even to this day I get a sick feeling when I think about it. It was a textbook abusive relationship.
Now on the flip side is harassment we don’t think exist because we don’t hear about it. Men get harassed as well, but there’s so much shame that they’d be so weak to let a woman harass them, it goes unreported. And at times when they do report it, the abuser turns it around and says it was him and this is just his way of making it worse.
And that, whether it be a man or woman who’s being harassed to make it be their fault or turn it around is crazy making.
It is in this regard that I teach my son he is at risk of being harassed just like my daughter is.
Elisa All Schmitz 30Seconds
Oh my goodness! What a situation, Stacey Roberts ! I am so glad you're OK. That would have shaken me up so badly! You are right - harassment and assault can come from men or women. The conversation needs to include all types of sexual harassment from both sides. It's just not OK. Thank you for sharing this. And thank you for teaching your son about equality! Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead
Stacey Roberts
Some of these disclosures can make people uncomfortable or come across as TMI, but I felt I could help others by telling what form I experienced harassment or however you want to label it. I grew up in rural Wyoming, in a community of 100 people. The only college educated were teachers, the rest were ranchers, railroaders, my dad drove a truck, another friend’s dad delivered fuel to ranchers as far away as 60 miles on dirt roads no matter the temperature and so on. We girls played tackle football with boys, we all rode snowmobiles and motorcycles, learned to drive a stick by the time we were 12 and we also took plenty of verbal jabs. Or what these days would get you expelled, but it was part of what made us resilient. I did work with what we called a jerk growing up. After a month of insults or what he thought were insults, weren’t phasing me he turned to someone else who they did phase. And that was something that wasn’t tolerated where I grew up, you didn’t pick on the underdog. Then one day he made a very degrading remark to her in front of a group of us and not having a filter I shot it down with a remark that left him speechless and embarrassed. He quit not long after much to everyone’s relief. Aside from that, I had also lived in big cities and knew all the precautions to avoid being attacked and never had an incident, so when I took this job as a nanny it was the last place I ever expected to be violated. Who would? At least not by the mom, right? This just goes to shown preditors come in all forms and we have to listen to that inner voice that tells us when things are right. And of course teach our kids they need to always tell if they don’t feel right about someone even if it’s a family member or close friend.
Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead
Thank you for sharing your story, @Mrs.Bagwell. I'm sorry for what you endured but thankful that you felt safe enough to share it here. And thanks for teaching your kids about harassment; we have the power to make a difference for the next generation!
Rachel W. Lewter
#MeToo One of my first memories is of my uncle (married to my aunt) molesting me. I remember how, his hand over my mouth so I couldn't scream, (I'm deathly afraid of being suffocated now) the children's rocky house in the room. The worst of it was his neatly folded POLICE uniform sitting in the chair as I entered the room. My aunt wanted her cigarettes from the room he was in, I still see those damn cigarettes on the back of the stove, she said she needed the ones in the bedroom.
I've seen a counselor for years. I finally got the nerve up to question my aunt, she denied anything to do with it, and called me a liar. Then she told my cousin I was harassing her.... My cousin was very ugly to me, but I didn't tell her of her moms part in all those experiences. That part of my family has now blocked me from social media, and spreading untruths about everything.
I just wanted to be free of this, face my demons and move on. It makes me so angry that she called me a liar.
Way back then there was a trial for my ex-uncle and another cousin. I didn't know anything about the other family members for decades.
Why would she call Me the liar? She said she would pray for me and my fantasies.
I just want to move forward, now she's told everyone that I'm making up stories about something I was trying to keep private for HER children's sake.
#MeToo
Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Rachel W. Lewter . I hope that with every #metoo we share we're closer to changing the future for our kids.
Elisa All Schmitz 30Seconds
Oh my goodness, Rachel W. Lewter - I am so sorry to hear this. I hope by sharing our stories, we can help prevent horrible things like this from happening to the next generation. Hugs! 🙏

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