I was living in Halifax, where I did ad sales for a local radio station. One Saturday night, I was at a club downtown for a work event. 

I was standing at the edge of the dance floor with two people in my professional network, a promoter and a musician. We were drinking fancy drinks. It was crowded. I was feeling super-successful and competent and amazing. 

I was wearing a black graphic tee, black ankle boots, and skinny white cotton pants. When I’d been getting ready, I’d looked at myself in the mirror, and thought hmmmmm, these pants are a bit much. I knew they would stand out in a dark club. And they’d just gone through the laundry, so they were pretty tight. I hesitated, but I liked the outfit as a whole, so I wore them anyway.

And then at the club, somebody groped me. 

Here’s what happened. Warning: this is GRAPHIC. Someone standing behind me shoved their hand palm-up between my legs, clamped it over my vulva and squeezed really hard. Then they dragged their hand backward and up, grabbed my ass on the right side, squeezed, let go, and then just walked away.

I think the whole thing took about three seconds. I remember it perfectly, it is seared in my memory.

I was just instantly done. I was stunned. My night was 100% over, and the promoter and musician walked me home. 

While we walked, they said all the good normal things that anyone would say. That the groper was a jerk, how dare men treat women like that. I told them that I knew I shouldn’t have worn those pants, and they said that was ridiculous and I should wear whatever I want. 

I was awash, flooded, suffused with shame. I felt taken down. I don’t know how else to describe it. There I was, all proud of myself. Looking good, doing my job, talking smart, with my cool big-city work friends. Sophisticated. Impressive.

And then this guy grabbed me, and put me in my place.

I felt like before it happened, those men had seen me as a peer, a professional, a colleague. And now suddenly I was a victim, a girl, someone to be comforted and protected. Now I was the woman to whom something bad had happened, and they were the men who got to decide that yeah, it was bad. And I knew that as soon as they got back to the bar they would tell other people, and then I’d be a victim to everybody.

I was young, with work people I wanted to impress, and some idiot grabbed my ass and ruined my whole night. It shook my confidence and I am still mad about it.