Women Everywhere Took to Twitter to Share Stories of Childhood Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment has many faces. Sometimes it’s a catcall, sometimes it’s an inappropriate comment or look made by an older male, or sometimes it’s unwelcomed or forced touching. Whatever shape it comes in, it’s wrong, it’s not normal, and women everywhere are starting to raise their voices and fight against it.
Today, The Every Day Sexism Project launched a campaign on twitter to encourage women to share their stories of sexual harassment from their childhood by using the hashtag #WhenIWas. Women all over the world shared their experiences, recanting how they were harassed even from the young age of 6, being ignored when they told someone, or being told that it was their fault.
#wheniwas 6 I was sexually assaulted frequently. When I told my grandmother she slapped me and told me not to tell anyone.
— Dr.Kessy (@kessily) April 19, 2016
#WhenIWas 6 the boys would pull my dress over my head and pull my underwear down. They were never punished because “boys will be boys”.
— Brienne (@HospitableHippy) April 19, 2016
#WhenIWas I don’t even remember the first time being catcalled because it became such a normal and reoccurring thing.
— Arista (@theonlyhipster_) April 19, 2016
#WhenIWas 13, the catcalls started. Catcalls from grown men. I was a child.
— Karla (@koverflowers) April 19, 2016
#Wheniwas in HS, I was sexually harassed. Counsellor told me to show school spirit: if offenders were suspended, the hockey team wld lose.
— Permanent Side Eye (@sarahkerr81) April 19, 2016
— Patrice Em (@putchti) April 19, 2016
Reading through these tweets sparked empathy, anger and memories of my own experiences of sexual harassment. To show my support for this movement and women I decided to share a few of my own experiences:
#WhenIwas 11 a boy who I thought was a friend of mine called me a prude in front of everyone because I wouldn’t kiss him.
#WhenIwas 12 I would walk home from school and older boys in cars would beep their horns at me.
#WhenIwas 18 a male coworker twice my age would make sexual advances at me saying frequently that I was “sexy”.
#WhenIwas 20 a male coworker grabbed me at work and kissed my neck. When I told my boss, friends and some family members, they said it wasn’t a big deal.
To this very day if I see a group of construction workers, I put my head down and cross the street, or start plotting what I will say in return to their catcalls. Looking back I can remember vividly how each experience made me feel ashamed, and in a twisted way, I could start to believe that my value was found in how these men viewed me. I know now that they didn’t value me at all, in fact, they didn’t value life at all. Sharing my experiences makes me uncomfortable, and a part of me still feels that it was all somehow my fault. And this is exactly why this campaign is important.
I sincerely hope that the women who vocalized their experiences have found healing and empowerment in it. We all need to get in the fight and it’s been a relief to see some male supporters:
Fellas, take some time to read through #WhenIWas hashtag. Don’t comment or reply. Just read.
— rem (@rem) April 19, 2016
Thank you to all the brave women sharing their experiences through #whenIwas. These experiences should have never happened or been tolerated
— Gregory Pizarro Jr. (@gregpizarrojr) April 19, 2016
Thanks to The Everyday Sexism Project and the brave women who shared their story, we can start de-normalizing sexual harassment.