Sexual misconduct is everywhere in the media lately–and rightly so. It’s a frightening and all too common reality for many women all over the world, and the fact that it’s finally getting coverage hopefully means awareness against sexual assault and violence is becoming more common.
Recently, a reporter for a U.S. Jewish newspaper stated that she was sexually assaulted by “an accomplished journalist from Israel” during an interview. Danielle Berrin did not name the journalist in her column published last week in the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles–but she explained how the incident took place several years ago in a hotel lobby.
The incident was originally reported in a column, “My sexual assault, and yours: Every woman’s story. How the Trump video launched a collective soul-searching over sexual harassment and assault.” Her account echoes the experiences that many women have faced in varying circumstances–myself included:
“I’d agreed to meet him, an accomplished journalist from Israel, at his hotel around 10 p.m. He was in the United States only for 48 hours, and told me he was completely booked during the daytime. I believed him.
Back then, the book he’d written was among several titles having an impact on the Jewish conversation, and many local community leaders wanted to meet with him. If I was going to be a part of this conversation, this was my opportunity.
I’ve learned that if you’re Jewish and younger than 35, your relationship status is typically the first thing another Jew will ask about. Besides, the man was married, with children, and a public figure. I figured I was safe. But after I answered one of his questions in a way that moved him, he lurched at me like a barnyard animal, grabbing the back of my head, pulling me toward him.
I turned my face to the left and bowed my head to avoid his mouth.”
The saddest part of this, to me, is the fact that Berrin considers herself lucky, because she wasn’t raped–as if we need to think in such low terms because women are continuously mistreated and objectified to the point that we’re just used to this behavior:
“In the end, I guess, I consider myself ‘lucky.’ Very, very ‘lucky.’ Because although I was groped and grabbed and pulled — sexually assaulted — I was not raped or otherwise harmed. Many women do not emerge from such situations still whole. Nevertheless, none of this feels like a gift.”
While I definitely don’t think Berrin is at all excusing the journalist’s behavior (if anything, she has great fortitude in dealing with a terrible situation), it’s an incredibly sad and unhealthy state of affairs for women right now. Why? Because women live in a world where we can’t come forward with our stories of assault without either being judged, criticized, disbelieved, or belittled–as if assault isn’t a big deal. Because it is.
As a survivor myself, I’m glad she came forward–her example illustrates to women everywhere that this behavior is never acceptable, and we should not tolerate it or turn a blind eye, regardless of how powerful someone is.