Well I've got a blog. A forum to talk about whatever I want but this wasn't ever a topic I intended on. And I'm addressing it because I have an opportunity (although it be through unfortunate circumstances) to increase awareness.
I was groped at Target by a strange man.
I was by myself (no kids with me), down the greeting card aisle, looking through cards. No one else was in the aisle. Out of nowhere, a hand full on grabs my butt. My immediate thought was that it was any one of my friends trying to be funny, and I probably would have thought it was funny too. I've been working on my glutes, it's come up in conversation, so it's kind of a joke.
I turn around, expecting to see a familiar face, and instead I see a middle-aged man turning the corner.
And all of a sudden I felt disgusted and horrified and angry. I actually yelled at him, "excuse me?!"
He disappeared and kind of in a daze, I make it to the checkout and find the first Target employee I can and tell her what just happened. I explain what the guy looked like- dark hair and beard, wearing all red. I saw enough of the back of him to identify him, and she called up the manager.
I was really shaken up, and explained it all to him, and then actually saw the bearded man from a distance and pointed him out. He was by himself, no shopping cart, just perusing the freaking store. Who knows if or how long he had followed me around.
Target took down my info and said they'd notify the police department.
As soon as I got in my car, I just started crying. K you guys- it's just a butt grab.. it's really not a big deal, and I've told myself that, but here's the reality: it is a sickening feeling that some stranger was watching you and thought it was okay to violate you. It's not okay, it's disconcerting and it's wrong.
I had barely been home 5 minutes when Target called me back and had the police there. They wanted me to come back to the store to get my statement, and they had the bearded man in custody. He denied it, of course, but later admitted that he had indeed had contact with me, but had maybe brushed me on accident. Nice try.
I couldn't leave my kids, so the cop came to my house instead and I wrote everything up. He gave me the option of whether to press charges. I'm a forgiving person, and I wanted to downplay this whole thing, but the officer said if it were him, he'd press charges but not to be persuaded by his opinion. So I pressed charges. The bearded man in red was booked into jail. The officer said originally he thought it'd be a misdemeanor but after hearing my story, he's being charged with sexual battery, which is a step down from a felony.
The perpetrator does not live close to here, so the officer assured me that he wouldn't know where I live or anything. He does not have any past history of sexual assault but his sister said he might have some mental health issues. Awesome.
Well, here's a few things I've learned from this:
Thank you Target for acting appropriately and taking this seriously, and not downplaying what some random girl is claiming happened. Loss prevention is going to be looking through video footage for further evidence of him being in my aisle, but my statement is what they go by regardless. I am grateful they believed me.
American Fork PD were really quick and also took this seriously. I had no idea grabbing someone's butt would lead to jail time.
I am okay- disturbed a bit, more than I feel like I should be. This isn't life altering, but I guess you don't really realize how it feels to be violated until it happens to you, and I'm lucky that it wasn't worse. And while it was just a stupid butt grab, I couldn't help but think what else he's done or what he's capable of. Does he hang out in the Target parking lot at night, preying on all sorts of women?? What could he do in the future, especially with signs of mental illness?
I've told a few friends (well, now all of facebook haha) what happened, and some have said they didn't know how they'd react in that situation- that they probably wouldn't even report a perpetrator like that. They wouldn't know what to do.
You guys- you women- You have to report those kinds of things that make you uncomfortable or violated. Teach your children what's okay and what's not, and to tell people if something happens. Unwanted touch is sexual harassment. There's so many worse things that happen to people that goes unreported because of shame or embarrassment or lack of support from those close to them.
And just because someone has a nice butt- or boobs- or whatever.. keep your freaking hands off! We'll put you in jail where you belong.