Abuse victims need to speak up to stop the abusers

In October I posted a page to my blog and titled it “#me too.” I hesitated to take it any further than that, not knowing how much I actually wanted to share, but have finally decided if we don’t share our stories, sexual harassment will just continue.

And I wanted to encourage our girls and young women, our boys and young men, to report any such happenings so the perpetrator would be stopped. If you’re not believed, tell someone else until someone finally believes you!

I want them to know that they did nothing wrong. They didn’t dress in the “wrong” way, comb their hair or put on makeup in an alluring fashion, walk in a way that would attract a predator. The predator is the one who did wrong. He or she was looking for anyone who came along, using criteria only he or she knew. And the girl or young woman, boy or young man, just happened to be there.

One question I’ve heard asked was, “Does this count?” My answer: If someone makes you uncomfortable by his or her behavior toward you, by an explicit comment, message, text or any form of communication or action, then yes, it counts! I don’t know if YouTube still shows “Tea and Consent,” but it’s worth watching.

As a young child something happened that made me feel creepy. It must have been a comment, a suggestion. It wasn’t physical and for the most part I blocked it.

The first experience that I clearly recall happened in sixth-grade, when we still lived in Kansas. I “developed” early and boys that age are quick to notice. There were rude comments and I tried to hide to avoid them. Fortunately for me, other girls caught up and I was no longer the center of attention.

My high school yearbook described me as having “a cute face and a funny smile.” At the time I wondered why must girls be described by their appearance? I’d have liked to be remembered for my writing skills, my sense of humor. Guys got comments on their sports acumen, skills, clubs they belonged to. Not how they smiled or what they looked like.

The following year, a good neighbor lost his wife to cancer. I was a freshman in college at that time and on one occasion when we happened to be in the same place he hugged me suggestively and told me he wished he were younger. Again that creepy feeling. I told my parents but they refused to believe me, told me I must have imagined it, and I kept quiet.

Working at the phone company brought me in contact (yes I meant to say that) with the touchy-feely boss; he even spread a rumor that I was pregnant when I got married (I wasn’t), a big “no-no” in 1964! I reported him to his superior who said I’d be welcome to work for him. I don’t know how that turned out because my new husband wanted me to quit work and I did.

Even in my 60s, after going through cancer and double knee replacement, I still wasn’t immune apparently — the only difference was that I couldn’t run.

A 90-year-old man whom I knew grabbed me unexpectedly and started making motions that told me clearly what he wanted. I was shocked and upset; I shoved him away and told a friend of his who thankfully believed me. And I realized that no woman is immune, no man is immune, to this treatment, no matter what their age may be.

I learned to speak out. I wasn’t always believed but I continued to speak out and was believed more often than not.

We need to continue speaking out. Don’t let it stop with one Facebook post. Talk to your family, your friends, your employer, his or her employer. We’ve put up with this too long. Silence kept it going. Speaking may help bring about an end.

•••

Susan Campbell is a resident of Kalaheo.

7 Comments
  1. jks January 14, 2018 7:49 am Reply

    I agree. According to a Dec 22, 2017 AP report, four Hawaii Legislators have been reported as sex harassers yet they have not been named. We need to know who the sex harassers are in the Legislature:

    http://www.hawaiifreepress.com/ArticlesDailyNews/tabid/65/ID/20812/December-22-2017-News-Read.aspx


  2. Jake January 14, 2018 8:01 am Reply

    Susan, the issue of the witch hunt right now against men, in general, and you touched on it, is the fact that when you are offended (however you want to describe it….even “hurt your feelings”), then you need to say something, THEN AND THERE. If you don’t say anything, then it will continue. It is not that hard.

    If you are a willing participant (sexually, or accepting the advances, or accepting the touching) of a person or sexual predator, then you are an ENABLER. Don’t come out crying, suing, next week, or 20 years from now because you participated/enabled someone.

    Rape is one thing. “Sexual Abuse”, these days, has morphed to words, feelings, being offended, a guy brushing by your boobs, or touching your butt. A call to HR or a lawyer, ends someone’s life, and it is not fair. Yes, come forward with your “Issue”, but the “time” (lost job, lost money, etc.) better = the “crime”. Being asked out by a co-worker, saying “You look nice today”, or a “cat call”, is not sexual abuse.


  3. Anon Ymouse January 14, 2018 11:08 am Reply

    This article talks of sexual harassment and sexual assault situations. That’s different from “abuse,” which occurs with people in relationships.

    There are different strategies for those in “abuse” situations, and speaking up while in them tends to escalate the abuse.

    Anyway, the headline doesn’t match the article.


    1. Susan Campbell January 15, 2018 1:03 pm Reply

      I didn’t choose the headline.


  4. Raper January 14, 2018 3:18 pm Reply

    Glad all the sexual harassers will be banned from their chosen profession because
    Of raping and
    Stuff!!!!


  5. Mary January 15, 2018 11:29 am Reply

    Jake,
    You were the reason we have smoldering sexual abuse issues, you called it a with hunt against men, what??? our grandmothers were burned at the stake, we are the great granddaughters standing up for our rights and we will not be burned by you again.
    shaming someone for talking about it isn’t cool any more;( you are guilty of that) we are in the middle of a sexual revolution and thank goodness it is stopping the silent shame that go’s on with it, I’m glad she wrote about it and yes lets be fair and not ruin someones life but then we must all watch our behavior so it can not be misconstrued as abuse,. thanks to the “Me Too” movement many more rules and guidelines are set in place to set precedence for whats the right way to handle this issue, to draw a line of what is sexual abuse, I am proud of her for writing this article, I’l like to hear more about it. Thank you for having the guts to write about it at all.


  6. Becky January 26, 2018 10:23 am Reply

    The more we talk and write about this subject, the deeper our society will delve into what this is all about.: people being grossly inappropriate and not experiencing any repercussions for their actions. (male or female) Thank you for writing this timely article. I imagine this was not easy for you to do!


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.