Me Too At Work: Sexual assault and harassment in the B.C. workplace

Me Too At Work: Sexual assault and harassment in the B.C. workplace

Introducing an in-depth look at who is affected and what can be done

Intro Part 1
Speaking out
Part 2
How to report
Part 3
After the trauma
Commentary

“I cannot tell you how many times I have had the experience of feeling pressure to sleep with somebody in order to get what I wanted or needed at that moment.”

The words are those of Anita Roberts, self-described as “a woman not in a famous industry.”

They are words that have been echoed in Facebook posts, Tweets and news reports countless times since early October, when the public allegations began to pile up against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, and the hash tag “Me Too” became part of the cultural vernacular.

But while discussion of sexual harassment and sexual assault took centre stage in the bright pop culture spotlights of politics and entertainment, another message has become increasingly clear in quiet conversations between friends and public declarations on line.

In everyday workplaces from Nanaimo to Maple Ridge to Vernon, from coffee shops to construction sites to board rooms, people are using sex to assert their power over others.

And other people are feeling powerless.

READ MORE: #MeToo: Women tell stories of sexual assault and harassment on social media

READ MORE: Hollywood reacts to Weinstein harassment claims

“When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”

These are the words of the president of the United States in a taped 2005 conversation with Access Hollywood where he talked about grabbing women by their genitalia.

The words have been used by some to politically discredit Donald Trump and dismissed by others as nothing more than an attempt to do the same.

But for women like Roberts, the only politics these comments recall are the office politics of men in ordinary positions of power attempting to make them feel indentured, scared, weak, or small.

The team at Black Press Media and the Vancouver Island Free Daily has talked to some of these women for Me Too At Work, an in-depth series that kicks off today with this introduction and the video above.

We speak to people who have dealt with anything from demeaning comments to full-blown workplace sexual assault. We speak to those who have been in positions of vulnerability and positions of power. We speak to experts who explain how the system works and how it doesn’t.

And we speak to some who feel that “Me Too” has marked the tipping point for drawing this issue out of the shadows and into a place where it can be addressed — not just for people in glamorous industries, but in regular B.C. workplaces from the Peace Arch to the Peace River.

— The Me Too At Work team

Just Posted

Motorcyclists in the hundreds depart from Duncan on a South Island ride in honour of the Kamloops 215. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Ride for the Kamloops 215 takes over Trans-Canada Highway

“My family was in residential schools for three generations. On the day… Continue reading

(The winning Lady of the Lake candidates demonstrate their talents during the annual Opportunity Night, Wednesday, June 8. Mary Batyi, left, does a Highland Dance routine, accompanied by a bagpiper; Jorden Matson, centre, shows people her artwork while telling the crowd what her inspirations are; Amber Bell tells people about competitive swimming, before providing a virtual demonstration.” (Tyler Clarke/Lake Cowichan Gazette, June 15, 2011)
Flashback: Water meters, ‘Porky’, and Lady of the Lake

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Sarah Simpson has been combing through old… Continue reading

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: Not securing your load could cost you big

An object of any sort falling off of the vehicle in front of you is definitely a surprise

Jared Popma recently streamed a live concert from the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre. (Ashley Daniel Foot photo)
21-year-old jazz artist talks favourite tunes and joys of music theory

Jared Popma recently streamed a concert from the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

Vetch cover crop beginning to flower. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Vetch and crimson clover to the rescue of soil fertility

I add dry organic fertilizer as plants use up what is in the soil.

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Most Read