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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria police are investigating after several vehicles were smashed and a basement was flooded along lower Cook Street March 2. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police investigating smashed vehicles, flooded basement on Cook Street

Police seeking witnesses, footage of several ‘mischief’ incidents

Hundreds of child care spaces will be available in Greater Victoria in the coming two years. (Unsplash)
More than 300 child care spaces opening in Greater Victoria in next two years

Province announces spaces in Victoria, Sooke, Saanich and North Saanich

This dead fir tree is one of many in Mount Douglas Park. Nine dead trees will be removed from the Douglas Creek site starting March 8 to make way for the construction of a new pedestrian bridge. (Photo courtesy Jason Clarke)
Nine dead, hazardous trees to be removed from Saanich park ahead of bridge construction

Felling begins March 8, minor trail interruptions expected in Mount Douglas Park

Victoria Police Department vehicles outside the headquarters building. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police investigating sudden death in Beacon Hill Park

Police, paramedics responded to a report of an unresponsive person early Wednesday

Victoria’s Swartz Bay terminal. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries offers cheaper, prepaid fare options

Ferry service preparing for busy terminals when travel restrictions are lifted

t
Province invests $2M in three Vancouver Island food hubs

Hub network provides shared-use processing facilities to small agri-businesses

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

Beginning late Tuesday, anti-pipeline protesters blocked the intersection of Hastings Street and Clark Drive in Vancouver. (Instagram/Braidedwarriors)
Demonstrators block key access to Vancouver port over jail for pipeline protester

They group is protesting a 90-day jail sentence handed to a fellow anti-pipeline protester

Two Vancouver police officers were struck by a car when the driver learned he was being arrested for allegedly using a fraudulent credit card to pay for food. (Vancouver Police Department)
Driver being arrested for alleged food order fraud rams Vancouver police with car

Two officers are in stable condition, suffering with soft tissue injuries following the incident

A discarded blue surgical mask is shown hanging in a bush in Montreal, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
B.C. RMT suspended for not wearing a mask after confirmed by undercover clients

College of Massage Therapists has 5 open files, said suspension necessary to protect public

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Missing woman’s remains recovered after Vancouver Island boat fire

Remains of a 60-year-old woman recovered after Feb. 27 boat fire took her life

Most Read