Inspirational

“I Felt Someone Slowly Run Their Fingers Over My Right Butt Cheek from the Bottom & Squeeze”: Woman’s Response to Man’s Invasive Touch Goes Viral

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, women’s voices are starting to get louder about sexual assault and misconduct. As of this week, Michele Howley is one of those voices.

While Michele was tempted to brush off what most would call “just a butt grab” at a concert, this strong-willed woman from Illinois decided that enough is enough.

“I’m choosing to silence the small voice that dismisses experiences like this one — that makes us feel like an inconvenience for speaking up,” she wrote in a viral Facebook post sharing her story.

Read about Michele’s experience in full below, and be sure to share her story with the women/men in your life who need to be empowered with the will to speak up as well:

{Edited for language}

“On Saturday night my mom, Grandma & I went to see Chris Stapleton. After the encore, we filed into the stream of people leaving the event. It was crowded, but not packed.

I felt something hit me from behind, specifically hitting the right side of my butt. I turned around, a group of guys were walking behind me. They snickered. I thought, ‘It was probably an accident. People bump into each other all the time at concerts.’ I thought I heard someone say, ‘Do it again.’ But I dismissed it, thinking I probably misheard.

Less than a minute later, I felt someone slowly run their fingers over my right butt cheek from the bottom & squeeze. I was wearing a long, velvet skirt — I could feel it all — and the heat of his hand.

I whipped around, I pushed him backward and I screamed ‘Don’t you ever [touch] a woman like that. That man just grabbed my [butt]!’ He gave me a dopey face and put his hands up in the air, as if pleading innocence. Two security personnel who happened to be standing by grabbed him and motioned for me to follow. I was hot with anger.

As we walked toward security, his friend ran up to match my pace. He said:
Come on, it’s a compliment
How can you blame him? It’s not his fault you have a nice [butt].

When I wasn’t having that, he said:
It’s not a big deal, this stuff happens all the time.
You’re overreacting.

We walked together into the security office and immediately the conversation switched to:
My friend would never to do that. He/I didn’t touch her. And a familiar chorus of ‘she’s a liar.’

The police came and wrote my account of what happened. They asked me if I’d like to press charges. I never even considered I could. Stunned, I said I didn’t know. They told me that I’d have to stay for a lot longer while they did the paper work, that I’d have to show at not one, but probably multiple court dates. They said it would be hard to prove.

My anger faltered and a small voice emerged in my head, ‘Is it really that big of a deal? He just grabbed my butt. Stuff like this does happen all the time. I don’t want to hold these people up. I don’t want to have to make my mom and Grandma wait.’

I told them I would think about it, they went to sit down at the man’s table across the room & interview him and his friend. It was their word against mine.

I sat down at the table that my Mom, Grandma & Kevin, the head of security, were sitting at. He looked at me and said immediately, ‘you need to press charges, he shouldn’t get away with it. I have a daughter.’ My mom and Grandma obviously agreed and that small voice faded as livid anger took the driver’s seat once again.

Why WASN’T it a big deal that man felt entitled to not only touch my butt once, but confidently and invasively grab it for a second time?

Why was I expected to take it as a compliment?

Why was I worried about burdening the police officers with paper work? Why was I worried about being believed?

Why was my first reaction anger, quickly followed by self doubt?

Why was it ‘just a [butt] grab’?

On the way to the concert, my Grandma, Mom & I had reflected on our new Supreme Court Justice. It was hard for all of us — all having had experiences with men that made the process emotional to watch unfold. We spoke passionately of a day where men didn’t feel entitled to take advantage. We spoke passionately about change.

As we waited, I thought to myself that maybe it had to start with not dismissing the small things. To stop saying, ‘it’s just a [butt] grab.’ To stop dismissing what we’ve been taught as women to withstand and tolerate.

The police came back after awhile and asked if I’d decided to press charges. In Cook County, there has to be penetration or contact with genitalia to be considered sexual assault, so it would be for battery. I gave my answer with the same confidence that he grabbed my [butt] with.

A minute later, the man was handcuffed and led outside where the police car waited. He would have to post bail, hire an attorney and see me in court.

I didn’t care if I couldn’t prove that it happened in front of a judge. I’d take it as far as it could go. In part for myself, yes, but really for all women (and men) who know this same experience far too well, and who experience far, far worse.

I’m choosing to silence the small voice that dismisses experiences like this one — that makes us feel like an inconvenience for speaking up.

I’m saying goodbye to the temptation to believe ‘it’s just a [butt] grab.’

You grabbed the wrong, right butt cheek, homie. I’ll see you in court.”

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