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Harvey Weinstein and me

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By Carolyn Ten Broeck, Editor

When the first accusation against movie producer Harvey Weinstein came out, I wasn't too shocked.

Most of us have grown up with the stereotyped "casting couch" portrayal of Hollywood.

Over the years, usually after some bigwig mogul has died, we hear the tales but then it's too late to confront the alleged abuser.

Bill Cosby has been an exception to that rule. And now Harvey Weinstein.

In the days that followed that first accusation, as more and more women came forward – and not all of them actresses – all I could say was, "He's sick."

Every day, both mainstream news and social media report another alleged victim.

Why, you may ask, did these women not come forward? Why did they mask the horror of rape? The embarrassment of harassment? The threat of public humiliation?

Many have said they were just getting started in their careers and he was so powerful they feared their working days would be limited.

Some feared other repercussions.

But for the most part, women just felt ashamed. They were the victims, but somehow the guilt they felt became so overwhelming they wore the mantle of disgust and shame rather than place it where it rightly went: on the abuser.

I know how they feel.

Over the weekend, someone started a #metoo status on Facebook asking women (and men) to post if they've ever been in an abusive situation, whether it was workplace or elsewhere.

I shared it.

This morning my husband asked, "You've been sexually harassed in the workplace?"

"Or assaulted," I added.

He was surprised to learn I have.

Harassed a couple times in the workplace, assaulted several times elsewhere.

He was taken aback. "You've never told me that," he said.

I don't talk about it. Not with the man who knows everything about me, and loves me anyway. Not with my best friend, Denise, who knew me better than I knew myself.

I haven't been raped, please understand, but I have been sexually assaulted – the unwanted touch, grope, feel.

I always felt it was my cross to bear.

Once upon a time, when I was decades younger, I toyed with the idea that perhaps I had said or done something to provoke the unwanted advances.

It wasn't until I was a freshman in college that I took a workshop, "How to Say No to a Rapist and Survive" that I learned that my behavior had nothing to do with it.

It's almost always about the power the abuser has over his victim.

It becomes a mind game with that person wielding the power and the victim feeling shame and weakness.

Ten years later, in the work environment, I took a stand against a male customer and refused to let him have power over me.

In the years that have followed, I've managed to derail conversations or actions that have put me in uncomfortable situations.

But I don't talk about it. With anyone.

My life is an open book – except this chapter.

Maybe that's the problem.

Embarrassed that we find ourselves in these scenarios, we brush them under the rug and into the recesses of our minds to avoid the feelings they conjure. Those same feelings of fear, shame, humiliation and that someone we knew valued us as less than a human being.

Just writing these last few vague paragraphs have taken a toll on me and they say nothing really.

It's past time we talk. Past time we confront the demons that haunt us that we dare not speak about. Past time to stop feeling guilt, embarrassment, humiliation about someone lording power over us.

I never want my granddaughters to have to say #metoo.