On Tuesday night’s (Dec. 5) episode of The Good Doctor, one of the female surgical residents was sexually harassed by an attending physician — he was asking her out for drinks and then bragging about his massage and omelet-making skills — and she knew she’d be blamed if she went over his head to report him.
It was a fictional take on the all-too-common sexual misconduct playing out in real life.
Swift could easily have been named Time‘s Person of the Year in any of the past ten Decembers, for all she’s accomplished in her life as a singer-songwriter. But it was her willingness to speak up about sexual harassment that landed her on the cover this year. In 2013, Swift was having her picture taken with country radio DJ David Mueller when he reached up under her skirt to put his hand on her rear end. She reported it, Mueller was fired, then he sued Swift for defamation. So in August, Swift counter-sued Mueller and in doing so, broke any and all silence about his inappropriate touching.
She told Time that she thinks the brave women and men who speak up about their abuse have moved the needle, but it still has a long way to go. “Even though awareness is higher than ever about workplace sexual harassment, there are still so many people who feel victimized, afraid and silenced by their abusers and circumstances. When the jury found in my favor, the man who sexually assaulted me was court-ordered to give me a symbolic $1,” Swift said.
“To this day he has not paid me that dollar, and I think that act of defiance is symbolic in itself.”
The interview also has Swift sharing advice for anyone who has experienced this kind of abuse: “You could be blamed for the fact that it happened, for reporting it and blamed for how you reacted. You might be made to feel like you’re overreacting, because society has made this stuff seem so casual. My advice is that you not blame yourself and do not accept the blame others will try to place on you. You should not be blamed for waiting 15 minutes or 15 days or 15 years to report sexual assault or harassment, or for the outcome of what happens to a person after he or she makes the choice to sexually harass or assault you.”
Swift’s straightforward testimony was widely reported at the time, and she explained that that was the only way to counteract what she’d been through.
“I decided to forego any courtroom formalities and just answer the questions the way it happened. This man hadn’t considered any formalities when he assaulted me, and his lawyer didn’t hold back on my mom — why should I be polite? I’m told it was the most amount of times the word ‘ass’ has ever been said in Colorado Federal Court,” she said.
Others on Time‘s cover include Alyssa Milano, Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan and activist Tarana Burke.
If you feel like you’ve been the victim of sexual harassment at work — including conduct such as offensive jokes, slurs, name-calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance — there are groups who will support you and help you break your silence. Everyone has rights, and the federal law is always on your side when it comes to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
Outreach organizations available to those who have been affected include the American Association of University Women, Change the Conversation, Porter’s Call, MusiCares, the Sexual Assault Center and You Have the Power.