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

The boil water advisory came into effect Oct. 21, 2020.
The Village of Alert Bay is on a boil water advisory

Coliform levels could indicate the presence of a pathogen

Kuterra’s smolts will come from Cermaq hatcheries. (Whole Oceans image)
Cermaq to supply salmon smolts to land-based farm Kuterra

Emergent Holdings, which operates Kuterra, and Cermaq signed a four-year agreement

Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health chief medical health officer, immunizes Victoria Schmid, Island Health’s vice-president of pandemic planning. (Submitted photo)
Can’t wait for a COVID vaccine? Get the flu vaccine in the meantime, says Dr. Enns

“We’re in a pandemic, and we can’t afford to have dual viral infections.”

Costume Crawl 2018. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Costume Crawl will return from 12-4 p.m. on Halloween

For more information on the Costume Crawl, check out Cafe Guido’s Facebook page.

Junior Canadian Ranger Miguel Catarata was awarded the Lord Strathcona Medal back in 2019 at Port Hardy Secondary School. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)
Junior Canadian Rangers find new place to meet amidst pandemic

The Port Hardy patrol has historically used the facilities at Port Hardy Secondary School.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

MMFN First Nation has said that it will restrict access to portion of Highway 28 that passes through the Nation’s land until a road use agreement is reached. (Black Press file photo)
Vancouver Island First Nation blocks highway access to logging trucks in Gold River

Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation restricting access for Western Forest Products pending road deal

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Never before seen painting by famed B.C. artist Emily Carr gifted to Victoria gallery

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Cowichan Search and Rescue set up near the Silver Bridge in Duncan on Wednesday morning, Oct. 28, 2020 to rescue a dog from the Cowichan River. (Citizen file)
Cowichan Search and Rescue save dog from icy Cowichan River

Search and Rescue’s swiftwater team was called in

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

Most Read