[VIDEO] In The Name of #MeToo, Women Talk About Their Sexual Assaults
It’s been some time since the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, but #MeToo has been tweeted over 1.2 million times, with women using that as a platform to share their personal experiences with sexual assault. Most of the stories attached to the hashtag come from women eager to break their silence and bring a sense of validation to women everywhere. In a new video inspired by the hashtag, five women open up to The Cut about their various experiences of sexual harassment and assault. For many of the women in the video, feelings of guilt, confusion and anger still weigh heavily on their hearts.
“Even now I just sort of blame myself.”
Veronica Quezada was just 14 when the story took place. The writer for Money.com describes how a photographer attempted to prey on her by fetishizing her ethnicity – a technique most Latinas know all too well.
“He said, ‘You know Latinas are kind of this exclusive thing,'” Quezada explains in the video. “He was like ‘If you look at porn, there’s not a lot of Latinas in there and when there [are] Latinas in there they’re very successful videos.'”
Quezada admits that when her abuser ultimately convinced her to allow him to take photos of her for a Quinceañera advertisement, she knew there was something off.
“He said it was going to be for an ad, but I was just wearing my normal clothes” Quezada explains. “That felt a little weird…even now I just sort of blame myself. Like if I would have known, if I’d just said ‘no.'”
Their frustration dots the video as they describe being taken advantage of and feeling stripped of their power to speak up.
“To this day, I don’t know what happened to these pictures. I don’t know what he did,” Quezada says.
She’s not the only woman suffering the affects of being taken advantage of. The five different women in the video share their own stories, all gut-churning in their shared experience of feeling mixed emotions. Some recall being abused by friends, and authority figures. Most detail assaults by male co-workers.
“I fell into every single trap.”
“We were on our way to a conference and he said, ‘Well, let’s stop by my house before we go,'” Lhisa Almashy, a program planner says. “And I was like ‘Okay’ and, again, I fell into every single trap. At that point I should have said ‘Absolutely not.'”
Like plenty of women with similar stories, this wasn’t the first time a man had tried to take advantage of her. Fortunately, she found the strength to fight off her co-worker and was able to escape.
“I didn’t know how to react to it other than saying ‘Oh. Thank you.'”
“He’d say ‘I don’t want to sound like a creepy grandpa, but your legs look great.’ And I didn’t know how to react to it other than saying ‘Oh. Thank you,'” says actress Charity Van Tassel about a male co-worker.
Later, in one of the most nail-on-the-head moments of the video, the actress explains why women don’t speak up.
“Its really hard for women in the business because you don’t want to lose your job. You want to be able to get a job,” she explains.
Seeing so many women step forward with their stories can be extremely empowering to witness. So many survivors are finding strength in both sharing and reading the stories of the millions of users posting #MeToo. The campaign is proving itself to be a healing circle for both those who decide to keep their story to themselves or share them in very public ways. For women, sexual harassment and assault can seem unrelenting and having a hashtag that empowers us to be vocal feels imperative. Particularly when such an opportunity can feel so rare.
Watch the full video.
It can be jarring to see so many victims speaking up about their abuse. If you or someone you know is struggling, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.
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