By: Kristi Thielen,
The Fem Dems of Sacramento, an organization I have been on the board of since 2016, had just won the award of Chapter of the Year from the county Democratic Party. It was awesome that a feminist organization was recognized for going above and beyond to empower women and help other Democratic organizations make strides in the right direction.
We accepted the award at the Democratic Party’s annual dinner and I did my standard mix and mingling after the program. Coming off a high of hard work and acknowledgement, I decided to leave a little early and walk to my car, a block away from the event. This was a part of town I am very familiar with: my old office was in sight and I stood at this very crosswalk every day for 2 years. As I was standing on the corner of 12th and J, feet away from my car, I felt a hard slap on my ass.
At first, I totally thought it was one of my friends also leaving the event. Why else would that happen?
In shock, I saw a man on a bike riding quickly away. I suddenly realized that it wasn’t any of my friends, but that a random guy sexually assaulted me on the street.
I screamed, “FUCK YOU,” then I started to shake. Mind you, this was around 8:30pm, on a busy intersection and no one walking near me even acknowledged that it happened.
In shock, I quickly called my boyfriend, not sure what to do. My mind was in twelve different places: I knew I needed to quickly get to safety, then I tried to minimize the situation – no need to call the police for something like this right? As I was driving home, I had a panic attack as I called my mom. I suddenly realized, no, this isn’t normal and no, I shouldn’t minimize my experience of street harassment/sexual assault.
My next thought was, it could have been worse. But this is exactly the problem.
Sexual assault is defined as “unwanted touching of another person’s intimate parts.” This includes “buttock”. All sexual assault is wrong – No matter the severity.
I was fortunate nothing else happened, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that I felt violated – It was an incredibly degrading experience. The audacity of that man to think he had the right to do something like that is beyond unacceptable; it’s unlawful.
To think, I was walking home, enjoying my evening and acknowledgement for all the strides I believed we were making, just to be degraded and assaulted minutes later on the street. When does it stop?
As advised by a close friend, I filed a police report. I was bruised both physically and emotionally – The adrenaline kept me from feeling the physical pain.
You should always report these instances of sexual assault. Even if you don’t think it’s that big of a deal, you could prevent it from happening to someone else.
Unfortunately, there’s an unfair burden for women or victims of these crimes to act in order to get justice. And with the #MeToo letter surfacing, it’s clear there’s a war on women on many fronts, in countless industries and enough is enough.
Let’s face it: we’ve all experiences instances of degradation. Almost all of us have experienced being catcalled and harassed on the street. But it goes further than that. This was not the first time I was sexually assaulted and I fear it won’t be my last.
I asked the rest of the Fem Dems E-board totaling nine women how many of them have experienced these examples of violence against women:
Three of us said we’ve been sexually assaulted.
One of us said we’ve experienced domestic violence.
Five of us said we’ve experienced sexual harassment.
Two of us said we’ve been stalked.
Three of us said we’ve been “upskirted”, a term for when you’ve been photographed without consent.
One of us said we’ve experienced intimate partner abuse.
And this is pretty on par, if not high, compared to the national percentages. What’s clear is that violence against women needs to stop.
To that asshole who assaulted me: Your day will come.
To all the other women who have experienced this kind of violence: I’m so sorry. You are strong, you are resilient and it’s ok to ask for help and support. You didn’t deserve what happened to you.
I decided to share my story because I hope it will change the way we think about sexual assault and violence against women. It makes it personal.
We as Fem Dems are committed to fight for the equal right to walk and the streets and feel safe. Share your story, report these instances of sexual assault and know that you are not alone.