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

Surrey RCMP not seeing ‘significant loss’ in ranks because of COVID-19

Surrey Mounties say they have a good tracking system to keep tabs on police officers experiencing an illness

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

APRIL 1: B.C.’s state of emergency extended, provincial health officer to provide update at 3 p.m.

Supreme Court upholds White Rock council decision on Lady Alexandra development

Planned 12-storey highrise on lower Johnston Road was stalled in 2018

No final high school game for Surrey all-stars; six scholarship winners named

COVID-19 forces cancellation of all-star games for boys and girls at Enver Creek gym April 3

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

Trudeau says Parliament needs to sit to pass expanded COVID-19 benefits

Both the prime minister and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer have promised to donate their salary increase

UPDATE: Anti-tax group calls for MPs, senators to donate scheduled pay raises to charity

Bill C-30, adopted 15 years ago, mandates the salary and allowance increases each calendar year

Liberals delay release of 75% wage subsidy details, costs: Morneau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

World COVID-19 update: NATO suspicious of Russian military drills; Cruise ships ordered to stay at sea

Comprehensive update of coronavirus news from around the world for Wednesday, April 1

John Horgan extends B.C.’s state of emergency for COVID-19

Premier urges everyone to follow Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice

UPDATE: 6.5-magnitude earthquake in Idaho shakes B.C. Interior

An earthquake was reportedly felt just before 5 p.m. throughout the Okanagan

Two inmates at prison housing Robert Pickton test positive for COVID-19

Correctional Service of Canada did not release any details on the identities of the inmates

B.C. heart surgery patient rarely leaves home

James Jepson is especially vulnerable to the novel coronavirus

Most Read