When she was 17, she joined a youth government organization and quickly met her first serious boyfriend and befriended many older students from around several towns in the area including the leader of the organization, Kurt. During that school year, she and her friend were selected to attend a training program for their work with the organization. By chance, the program was located in the town where Kurt lived. The first night, she and Kurt went out drinking and dancing, and at the end of the night he said she could stay at his place instead of going all the way back to her hotel. She accepted, since they were friends, and she trusted him. Back at his house, she fell asleep in his bed while he was on the couch.
“I woke up and he was right there beside me and his hands were places where they shouldn’t have been. I was so shocked. I don’t even remember what I said or what I did.”
She made it clear to him that she was uncomfortable, but he seemed to not understand that what he had done was wrong.
She spent the next day processing what had happened, and worrying about how she would tell her friend and her boyfriend. That night, her friend wanted to go out with Kurt, and pressured her to come along. She didn’t tell her friend what had happened, but tried to communicate that she did not want to hang out with him further. However, Kurt ended up driving them both back to their hotel.
“I remember getting into the bed, I’m wrapping the sheets around me, just tucking them in underneath me to kind of protect myself.”
She awoke the next morning to the sounds of her friend yelling at Kurt to get out. He had done the same thing to her friend that he had done to her the night before.
“Once she told me that I told her my experience and then she was furious at me because he had done that and I had brought him into her life.”
When they returned home, she told her boyfriend, and was met with anger. She told her mom, who said it was her fault for drinking and the way she was dressed. She was shocked by this, because her mom had raised her to believe men and women were equals. She called the police and a hotline, who said she could pursue the case, but would have to go on record.
“I remember just being left feeling really powerless about it, and the only way to rectify the situation or to get some justice would involve hurting me even further.”
When she returned to the organization, she watched him flirt with other girls.
“I started thinking, he’s done it to me and he did it to my friend, what’s to stop him using his position of power and his charisma to do it to some other unsuspecting girl?”
She tried to indicate to the other girls that they should be cautious around him, and ultimately quit the organization. She said she felt she had no options other than publicly accusing him, which would draw attention to her and garner harsh reactions from her mother and friends.
“I never really felt powerless as a woman until that moment where it was like everything was stacked against me, from society at large to my own mother.”
Despite this experience she chose not to chime in on social media with #MeToo. “I was thinking of course about sharing [my story]. I actually chose not to because what I’m slightly worried about is that, in profiling how poorly some men treated women, we also lose the story of how excellent some men are.”
Violets’ Giving Circle Advisor Amanda Lovrien
After college graduation, Lovrien entered a male dominated profession.
“I was in situations where sexuality was part of the culture and daily conversations. It made for uncomfortable situations,” Lovrien said, describing her job.
While working at this job, Lovrien was sexually harassed multiple times. Once, she was approached by male coworkers who offered their congratulations. When she asked why she was being congratulated, they revealed that all of the men on their floor had made a list of the women they would most like to have sex with, and that she had been voted number two. Lovrien says she sadly remembered being flattered at first, but quickly realizing that what her coworkers had said was wrong.
“It should have been something that I instantly spoke up about and I didn’t… When you’re first starting a job and you’re surrounded by [sexual harassment], silence seems like the only way to keep your job, and what we’re finding out now is that it just puts more people in harm’s way,” Lovrien said.
Lovrien, who attended Marlborough, said that she was educated about these issues, and that being sexually harassed is not a reflection of the survivor.
“I don’t think [sexual harassment] is something that preys on weak women or weak girls, this has much more to do with the other side,” Lovrien said.
When asked what Marlborough girls should know about sexual harassment in the workplace, Lovrien responded, “If it feels wrong it’s probably wrong. If you are part of a job or a community that makes you feel uncomfortable then it’s probably not the one for you.”
Athletic Trainer Lindsay Yocum
When Yocum first heard about the #MeToo movement, she felt both happy to see many women speaking up and distanced, because her story was different from those of many of the other women who came forward.
Yocum was molested by her father from the time she was 12 until she left for college. Despite the fact that the #MeToo movement is largely focused on those who have experienced sexual harassment, Yocum ultimately thinks all the stories are connected through the violence against women and the sentiment of inequality.
Today, Yocum wants Marlborough girls to know that no matter what, they have power over their own lives.
“My identity isn’t wrapped up in my story… you’re not fated to be a certain way, you can write your own story and it’s empowering to know that someone can experience something that could be really devastating and turn out okay,” Yocum said.
Yocum said she is choosing to share her story of sexual abuse in hopes of helping others on campus.
“If someone feels like they can trust me a little bit more or have a little bit more insight into my life when they have something that they need to talk about [they will know] my door is always open.”