“Me too” her little voice spoke as loud as she could. “Me too” she chanted as if it was a prayer stumbling over the words as she got more and more excited. Getting caught up in the excitement of Friday treat time. Excitedly eyeing the unseen shapes in the brown paper bag Daddy religiously brought home week after week, month after month and year after year come hail rain or snow. “Me too” was uttered without knowing what the words would mean as an adult because at that moment captured in time meant that she also wanted her treat of a walnut whirl wrapped in its blue slippy paper.
Oh, the excitement every Friday of debating with herself which way to eat this treat today. Will the Walnut on the top be removed and eaten first or kept for later after eating the thick creamy chocolate and the white fluffy filling inside or should the nut be eaten first to be mixed in the childish mouth with chocolate and creamy filling? “Me too” as she stepped in dancing excitement as Daddy gave Mammy her apples and then handed out the treats to the two girls. “Me too” as she reached for her Friday treat not knowing the significance that these two small words would have in her life as a mature adult.
#METOO stood out in bold print and its significance hit me like a ton of bricks because now these words were no longer my childish chant but a hashtag on Twitter. The “Me Too” of my childhood a distant memory to be always cherished but washed away by the significance of #METOO. As I read each tweet and FB status I was dragged back down a dark hole of memories which had lain buried under happy memories. I guess this was a trigger point again. Slowly my list of #MeToo grew before my eyes and as it grew my determination not to be ashamed or hid my past grew. Only good will prevail over all this evil.
#MeToo: Yes a man who was in a position of trust by adults groped me as I passed him when I was getting off the bus after a school tour. He asked me to meet him later when the bus was empty. I ran to my friends knowing this wasn’t right. I told one friend and she wanted me to go back later to see what he would do. Thankfully the fear of being caught out late as child overrode my curiosity as to what this creep wanted. #MeToo: Yes a colleague used to make me feel very uncomfortable by giving me sly looks and stating that he loved the way I stood when I was doing a particular job. I grew paranoid about how I stood. I reported this to a superior to be told just to ignore him. #MeToo: I was abused emotionally, financially, mentally and physically so much that I got a safety order and should have taken the barring order the Judge was giving me. Sex without consent is rape but when the DPP decided my case didn’t have enough evidence it wasn’t brought to court.
#MeToo: I got marooned in the snow after bringing a friend home and stayed the night in his place. I felt safe because well sure he knew I’d been abused before so would not hurt me. I was anally raped. #MeToo: I was grabbed in a lift by a man because I looked hot in my red suit. I ran shaking with terror and tears rolling down my face. I love that red suit which I still have but have not worn since that day about ten years ago. One day I will put it on again when I am ready. #MeToo: I was harassed by a total stranger when he asked for directions to Leopardstown and I could only direct him to Dublin. He threw down his bike and ran at me screaming. I ran into the road but nobody stopped to help me. People drove by on their merry little way in their rosy little worlds while mine was shaking. #MeToo: I got verbally abused today by a customer but because I was at work there wasn’t a lot I could do. I asked him if he wanted a manager and that just made him worse. But to him and others like him, I am just the service provider behind the butcher counter who is there to serve them no matter what abuse is hurled my way. I smile as my late father always said kill them with kindness.
Abuse, harassment call it what you like has to be abolished from our race the human race because it’s grossly inhuman to mistreat others. Future generations deserve to know that they can feel safe everywhere without fear of that childish shout of “Me Too” turning in to the adult hashtag #MeToo.
One thing I could write in concrete is that I would never have gotten where I am today without the wonderful work of everyone at the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and Women’s Aid