#METOO: My Story by Nikki Rae

Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, then you’ve definitely seen #METOO all over your timeline.

But, what does it mean, and why are so many women (and men) sharing their stories?  Although the hashtag was brought to light last weekend, the movement is nothing new.

Ever since the allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein came to light, those two simple words #METOO have become a loud cry to bring sexual harassment to light.  The hashtag caught fire when actress Alyssa Milano tweeted a call-out to victims “so we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

The Birth Of A Movement 

But, the online movement didn’t start with Alyssa Milano. It started more than 10 years ago with activist Tarana Burke.

“It’s not about a viral campaign for me,” she told CNN on Tuesday. “It’s about a movement.”

Tarana is the program director for Brooklyn-based Girls for Gender Equity and used to be a youth camp director. Hearing stories from the youth she counseled inspired her to create the movement that she’s been working on for over 10 years.

My Story

When I was 6, an older neighborhood boy convinced me to take my pants off and play in the front yard. I knew it was wrong, but he was my friend and I trusted him.

When I was 14, I snuck out of the house to hang out with an older boy with a car. We went for a “drive” that started out innocent but quickly became aggressive and forceful. I was almost raped that night.

When I was In high school, at a house party I kissed someone and got pushed to the ground and verbally abused when I didn’t want to take it further. The verbal abuse continued throughout the school year.

When I was 19, I worked at Red Lobster And was trapped in the dry storage room by a coworker who forced himself on me. I had to knee him in order to get away. Supervisors were told, but nothing happened. “We won’t schedule him when you’re working”

When I was 21, I worked at Macy’s and was groped by my supervisor. It made work uncomfortable and awkward. I hated coming in and would miss work when I knew he was working. Because of my previous experience, I was wary of reporting it for fear that nothing would be done. I told human resources, and again, nothing was done.

Countless times being out and about where men felt they had the right to touch, grope, grab, feel and verbally disrespect me…The industry I chose as a career is heavily male-dominated. I’ve come across several situations where a woman is expected to become involved with a male in a higher position for job security or an opportunity to advance in her profession. This is nothing new. It’s just now being brought to light.

This has to STOP!

No matter what a woman WEARS, what she SAYS, how she ACTS, if she DRINKS, is she goes OUT, if she has multiple PARTNERS, if she’s open about her SEXUALITY…none of these things gives any man the right to force himself on her, verbally attack her or physically abuse her.

If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem. And maybe, just maybe, people would take finally take this seriously.

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