# YouToo. Yes, you: Victims. Friends. Family. Bystanders. Men. Women. Let’s join forces to stop sexual assault. It’s too pervasive to vanquish alone.
It has been 22 years, and I still haven’t let it go, my sexual assault by Dr. James Edwards. See # MeToo-1: Memories Still Haunt, http://terryannmarshall.com/uncensored/metoo-1-memories-still-haunt/.
At the time of the assault, I reported him to two managers in my chain of command, to my employer’s HR director and legal counsel, to my Department of Energy client and to the local DOE person responsible for addressing sexual assault. Did # YouToo?
In addition, I wrote Edwards himself, asked for an apology and a commitment to stop harassing women. More importantly, my employer’s counsel wrote to the Board of Directors of the Medical University of South Carolina, asked for an investigation. The reports, the letters all led to dead ends: No action. Did any of this happen to # YouToo?
Then, I tried a new approach. With the Bob Packwood scandal still in the national rearview mirror, I submitted a query for an article in Newsweek’s “My Turn” column. I waited, watched my in-box. No response.
Then, twenty-some years later, after the Planet Hollywood video, I submitted queries for an op-ed to The New York Times, to The Washington Post, and to The Las Vegas Sun. Once again, no response. Not one.
For the most part, I eventually tried to let it drop. My assailant was too prominent, surrounded by too many protectors. I was spending too much emotional energy on dead end streets. Maybe this happened to # YouToo?
But twenty-plus years later, as I listened to Donald Trump deny the validity of that 2005 Access Hollywood tape; and to Roy Moore spout his overheated self-righteous indignation, memories of that October afternoon in Jim Edwards’ office washed over me like fetid sewer water.
# YouToo: Let’s Stop Sexual Assault Wherever It Rears Its Head
I extend my arms, wrap them around victims, supporters, and everyone who cares — yes, #YouToo. Together, we must stop their behavior, their so-called “locker room talk” with Zero Tolerance: No unwanted touching or kissing. No suggestive commentary on women’s looks. No bragging about sexual exploits, real or phony. Not at work. Not at school or on college campuses. Not at parties. Not in the locker room. Not on broadcast or social media. Not anywhere. Not by our bosses, our co-workers, even among “the guys.” Zero Tolerance. In addition, let’s protect the invisible women, the farm workers, the hotel housekeepers, the culinary staff, the manufacturing line workers. If it stinks like sexual assault, it is not okay. If you see it or hear it, call them out.
Yes, # YouToo! Sexual Assault Is Not a By-stander Sport
To voters, and to boards of directors and CEOs and managers, I say: Zero Tolerance. Look at the patterns. Pay attention to the behavior of trash-talkers – their mouths and their actions – and to complaints about them. Don’t be handcuffed by considering – or ignoring – each accuser separately. When two or three or five or nine women come forward, recognize you may have a predator on your hands, someone not fit to govern or manage. Someone you don’t want in a position of leadership or responsibility or in your workplace. Give him a fair hearing, yes, but listen to the accusers. And don’t let it drag on. If the evidence warrants, tell him, “You’re fired.”
To the wives, girlfriends, mothers, and acquaintances of these men, I say: # YouToo. Zero Tolerance. Shut down their “boy talk.” Don’t laugh at off-color jokes. Don’t hide it to protect the family reputation. Sexual assault is not an embarrassment. It’s a danger, perhaps even to your own family.
To men in the locker room, the workplace, the bar: # YouToo. Establish a Zero Tolerance Zone. Tell these predators that real men don’t assault women, or brag that they do. And I say, Thank you, to men who have already spoken up, like ten-year NBA veteran Marcus Banks, who said, “Having spent my career in and out of locker rooms, it is insulting for Trump to try to bring male athletes to his level of misogyny . . . His statements are admissions of sexual assault and predatory behavior against women, and they should not be glossed over or excused,” (LV Sun, October 14, 2016; http://lasvegassun.com/news/2016/oct/14/at-unlv-or-in-nba-locker-rooms-are-not-a-haven-for/).
But What If You Are a Victim?
And to victims, I say: Be watchful. Don’t be bamboozled by their self-serving attentions, flattery, or tempting promises. You have more to lose than they do. Prepare yourself mentally to make a scene. This is especially important if you are non-violent, like me. Is he assaulting you physically? Scream. Kick. Bite. Punch. Slap. Use your knee where it hurts. Call the police.
Is it a pattern of unwanted behavior? Leud innuendos? Raunchy jokes? Too-close whispers in your ear? Trash-talking? A hand on your shoulder, edging downward? A brush against your thigh, buttocks, or breasts? Or an overt transgression: A blatant proposition? An eagerness to show you porn? Sneaking up, pinning you against the wall or the copy machine? Grabbing your breasts or buttocks? A forced kiss? A hand up your skirt? Exposing himself? Whip out your cell, use it as a camera: Take photos of his exposed parts or his porn. And use it as a recorder: Capture his spoken words – and yours.
And always, ALWAYS document the pattern: Keep a log. Write down every detail as soon as possible after each incident – time, place, specific actions and words. Become a witness: Keep your eyes open for similar harassment of your co-workers. Record them as well.
Yes, # YouToo. Tell others. Join forces with other victims. Support each other. Call it what it is: sexual assault. Publicize their names and faces. The goal: Zero Tolerance.
To Women Who Have Stuck your Necks Out, I Thank # YouToo.
Nowadays, I don’t dwell on Jim Edwards’ assault on me. He died three years ago, and I’ve lived a happy, productive life. But when I see women attacked and dismissed for telling their stories, for speaking truth to lies, I cannot be an impassive bystander. So today, I salute the growing list of women who have dared to tell their stories of sexual assault. What you have done takes tremendous courage and fortitude. Let’s all move forward together.
And let’s all tell our stories to our families, our friends, and the world. Do it here. Do it now. # YouToo. It’s a first step.
Next time: “# MeToo-4: Et Tu, Brute? The Sexual Assault Conundrum”
See previous blogs: “#MeToo-2: Why Women Don’t Report” at http://terryannmarshall.com/uncensored/metoo-2-women-dont-report-sexual-assault/, and “#MeToo-1: Memories still haunt. http://terryannmarshall.com/uncensored/metoo-1-memories-still-haunt/