No More Secrets

What happened?

What finally happened that it was suddenly OK to out a powerful person like Harvey Weinstein and expose his abuse of power and the sexual depravity that so many women have to endure silence?

It doesn’t matter. This is a great thing.

Unbelievable behavior has been going on for decades. There have been payoffs. There were threats. Careers were ruined. Others, spared for favors.

But that’s Hollywood, right? The home of the casting couch. Where sexual harassment and assault are “just part of the process.”

No more.

It’s with heartbreak I read story after story of what actresses and models have endured for the sake of not having their careers crushed by powerful men. But now, they’re finally fighting back and I’m cheering them on.

The current “let’s put an end to sexual harassment and abuse” campaign has spread outside of Hollywood and has become a powerful wake-up call to me and hopefully millions of men.

Last Sunday, the #metoo campaign was given a boost by Alyssa Milano and it spread like wildfire. Sadly, for good reason. If a woman had been victims of sexual harassment or abuse in their lifetimes, they were encouraged to post #metoo. Practically every woman I have as a friend on Facebook joined in. Some hesitated, because they didn’t want people to know or didn’t want to relive it. Others have used it as a light to show us it’s far from OK. In fact, it hasn’t been for a long time. Hopefully, this is where we finally start to change things.

If you know me, you know I’m a goofball. I keep it light and have a hard time being serious. (apparently, except when I blog) I have this deep-rooted need to make people smile or laugh. Looking back over the years, I never, ever intentionally sexually harassed anyone. At least, in my mind.  I’m playful, flirty at times, but only with people I felt close to.

The #metoo campaign has me re-thinking and that’s when change begins. It has shed light on something that wasn’t said before to the masses–that being sexually harassed or assaulted has been more the rule, than the exception.

My hat is off to the women who have bravely stepped forward to tell their story with the hope that things will change and that, hopefully, others won’t have to go through it.

KING 5 News Anchor Amity Addrissi bravely told her story.

A Facebook post by a former co-worker was the real tipping point for me. I mean, for God’s sake, I never knew that had happened to her. I felt incredible sadness and anger as I read her story while realizing that she had been living with this all the time I’ve known her. She is one of the brightest, nicest, just deep-down people I know. Here’s her story:

#Metoo.

When I was in high school, I was held down and raped by two drunk/high boys from school. To complicate matters, one of them was actually my boyfriend. For YEARS afterwards, I was in denial that this was even rape — that’s how brainwashed our culture is. Since I didn’t scream at the top of my lungs, since I didn’t bite and punch and kick, since I didn’t physically fight back with ALL MY FORCE, this was clearly my fault, right?

I did try to shove them off, I repeatedly asked them to stop, I cried, I tried to squirm out of their grip as the pinned me down. But, again, I didn’t fight back with all my force, so it wasn’t REALLY rape, right? (SMH)

I kept dating that boy for a long time afterward, mainly due to feelings of low self-worth. This incident had a long-lasting impact on my life. An impact that is still very much felt. It kicked off a long-lasting bout of depression, decreased my belief in my value as anything more than an object, fostered an ambivalence toward life, and worst of all, gave me intimacy issues that continue to this day.

Now I wonder, how I ever could have thought this wasn’t even rape. I was A CHILD. I was raped. I never said anything. What is WRONG with this world?

I’m not glad to have had this experience, but I am happy to add to the growing #metoo lexicon.

And one last thing. Don’t feel sorry for me. I’ve grown past it. But do join me in my outrage.

Story after story, #metoo after #metoo, from friends and relatives, knocked the wind out of me. That we’ve been silent as a society as long as we have been seems inconceivable. How could we have side-stepped this issue all the way until 2017?

The New York Post put a brighter spotlight on Hollywood’s past, which was notorious. Give this a read and you’ll see what I mean. Harassment and assault were not publicly accepted, but even worse: they were privately ignored. Power corrupts and Harvey Weinstein used his power in the most corrupt way. His attacks on women were widely known, but remained a poorly kept secret.

As for the impact on my ground zero, this forced me to come to the realization that there were most likely several times in my life when I inadvertently harassed someone. Something I viewed as playful might have been very disturbing to a victim of previous harassment or assault. They had been wronged in their life and I was reminding them of that incident or incidents. For that, I hope they will accept my apology.

I have many, many female friends and acquaintances and to you, I’d like to humbly ask that if I ever do anything that goes beyond your comfort zone, you tell me, “Tim, you’re crossing a line.” Your friendship means too much to me. And it’s long, long overdue to establish a no toleration policy.

My wife and I have talked about her #metoo story. I know it still hurts because we tried watching “Mad Men” and the sexual harassment that was part of that era and part of that show still made her uncomfortable. She had lived it.

I have my own #metoo stories. There was the bar manager in Yakima who groped me one night out of the blue. I’m talking full-out grabbing-my-crotch, claiming he accidentally tripped into me.  Yeah, right. Close friends have heard me tell the tale of the famous singer who invited me to his hotel room, gave me wine and then asked if I would take a bath with him.  Now, I am NOT bringing this up to say, “I understand.” I don’t.  I really don’t know what you went through  and I don’t know how people can use power to harass or assault people and then sleep at night. What kind of human beings are they?

It’s my hope that all those who suffered in silence now feel empowered enough to either raise their voices or at least call out something when it happens. There can be no more Harvey Weinsteins. The problem isn’t anything new. But it’s time for it to go away.

We’ve hit the breaking point. We’ve had enough. We’re going to do something about it. All of us need to make this a priority, no exceptions, no excuses. This hidden tradition of sexual harassment and assault ends now.

It’s time to step up for our wives, our sisters, our daughters and generations to come.

No more secrets.

Tim Hunter

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