There are times in our lives when we are faced with decisions that we only really better understand after the fact.
An occurrence at one of the non-PASS sponsored evening parties during PASS Summit this year brought this into very clear focus for me. I arrived at a venue with some friends, and even though it was crowded, I saw some unknown, friendly, smiling faces and decided to go over and say a quick "hello". Within minutes, there was the first unwanted, uninvited groping. I thought to myself "ew, gross!" and moved away with a scowl in his direction. It was a crowded party and I remember thinking, maybe, just maybe, that didn't really just happen. It was when it happened again from a second guy in the same group a few moments later there was no denying that yes, it really WAS happening.
It's what transpired next, though that has come to upset me in the days afterward. Immediately after the incident, I sought out a trusted friend at the party and after telling him what had happened, he offered to do something. I declined, telling him I was fine.
What is it that keeps women from calling out unwarranted behaviors such as this? Embarrassment? Pride? Worry that somehow "I asked for it?" Here is the real kicker, though. Because I failed to react, to engage others, to call out this behavior – I missed an opportunity to have it addressed. That, my friends, is my biggest regret.
Unfortunately, it is a fact that sometimes women are subjected to inappropriate behaviors from others. My hope is that by speaking out now, if you or someone you know finds this situation happening, you recognize it and act immediately to bring it to somebody’s attention. Tell a friend. Point out the perpetrators. Tell the venue management, organizer, or vendor. Definitely don't ignore it.
PASS has an Anti-Harassment Policy (AHP) in place. I sometimes hear jokes about the AHP. While it might be amusing to poke fun at it and think its only purpose is to keep you from telling me a dirty joke, that's not actually why it's there. It's for situations like this. While I did not make a report at the time, I corrected that and have filed an official report. If you have any concerns or an incident within the guidelines of the AHP, I encourage you to contact email@example.com.
PASS Board of Directors, Virtual Chapter