Every woman has a story, every #metoo has an #Ihave

Every woman has a story, and mine involves a man in a very short pair of running shorts who revealed his penis as he nudged his way past me.


Every woman has a story, and mine involves a stranger in a crowd in Barcelona who shoved his hand down the back of my jeans and tried to insert his finger into my vagina.


Every woman has a story, and mine involves a male work colleague, not a manager but someone who I managed, putting his arm around my shoulder and calling me “darling”.


Every woman has a story, and mine involves a former Managing Director who, on a Christmas do, once asked me: “if I said I wanted to ‘take you from behind’ would you think I was referring to anal or vaginal sex?”. 


Every woman has a story

In my last, but not my most recent, story I was a twenty-three year old on a graduate training scheme who didn’t know what to say.  So, I said nothing. 

It has only been recently, since #metoo started trending, that I have thought to share my stories. 

The #metoo hashtag went viral, with millions of tweets from women feeling empowered, in the wake of the Weinstein revelations, to share their stories of rape, sexual assault, abuse and harassment.  Women tweeting #metoo can feel that they are not alone.  Their experiences have been shared.  A problem shared is a problem halved.  Sharing these stories has, in many cases, taken great courage. 

What has taken more courage, and in my view, deserves applaud, are those who have dared to share their intimate stories under the hashtags #ItWasMe #IHave and #HowIWillChange.

“It was easier to tell myself it wasn’t my place to stop a friend and I wasn’t a bad guy because I wasn’t the one doing it but… #ItWasMe” 

“I let things go on for a few seconds past her saying ‘please no’.  I am so sorry. #ItWasMe”

“#Ihave crossed the line.  I have taken advantage of trust.  I have laughed it off.  I will never do it again”.

“#HowIWillChange: I will confront anyone who makes sexist statements about women even as silly jokes”.

For every #metoo there must be an #Ihave.   

We need to hear more of these #Ihave stories.  But we won’t hear more of these stories until we can guarantee the story-teller an amnesty so that he or she can confess and tell the story without fear of repercussion of resentment. 

There are a few stories of named abusers who have lost their jobs and their status.  While this is not wrong, it won’t encourage the #Ihave voices. 

To be truly successful and to be viral to the same magnitude as #metoo, #Ihave needs a safe space.  In the same way that violent knife owners are able to deposit their gang knives at London police stations without fear of prosecution or repercussion during a knife amnesty, we need to provide #Ihave with an amnesty so that we can hear their voices too.   

Every woman has a story, every woman has a #metoo.  For every #metoo there is an #Ihave.  We need to allow #Ihave to say they are sorry.  We shouldn’t silence the #Ihave story.

P.S.  If you liked this post, you might also like Why Parents should teach Feminism and A Feminist’s take on a decade of dating.

Life Love and Dirty Dishes
Surrey Mama


  1. October 26, 2017 / 10:42 pm

    Ah, this is a nice take on the subject. So nice to hear the #ihaves and #itwasmes amidst the milliins of #metoos.

    • thesingleswan
      October 31, 2017 / 9:17 pm

      I agree. Thanks Nicole. Pen x

  2. October 26, 2017 / 11:01 pm

    As long as I live I will never fully understand some people.
    Very interesting post and difficult subject matter.
    Dropped by from #FridayFRolics and shared.
    Hope this weekend treats you kindly.

    • thesingleswan
      October 31, 2017 / 9:17 pm

      Thank you Donna

  3. October 30, 2017 / 10:16 am

    This is so true. Reading the #Ihave is really emotional. But in a positive way it feels like change. And after all the #metoo it is blatantly obvious that society needs to change. So yes, let’s hear the #Ihave voices. Thanks for linking up to #FridayFrolics

    • thesingleswan
      October 31, 2017 / 9:12 pm

      Thanks Claire, and apologies for not linking a funny post to Friday frolics. Pen x

  4. November 2, 2017 / 2:44 pm

    I think a lot the #IHave stories are also really brave. They aren’t asking for forgiveness. They know they are not going to be met with support or kindness. They are still brave enough to admit they did something terribly wrong and apologise. It is going to take a lot more to make real change though. #stayclassymama

    • thesingleswan
      November 2, 2017 / 10:03 pm

      You are right Briony, it is going to take a lot more to make real change. This is only the beginning. Pen x

  5. November 3, 2017 / 1:46 am

    Interesting. I have many #MeToos, but yes we do need to find a way to encourage the #IHaves as well, since minimisation and denial are such a huge part of the culture that needs to be changed. Thanks so much for joining us for #FridayFrolics
    Silly Mummy recently posted…Friday Frolics – 27th October 2017My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      November 4, 2017 / 9:01 pm

      Thank you. Pen x

  6. November 5, 2017 / 12:03 am

    Pen, this is a really great mindset for us all to have as we change this culture of sexual abuse and harassment. It’s a nice shift, and a healthy one a=too. We need to raise boys with empathy. Boys that will never say anything to a woman (or man) that they wouldn’t say in front of their mom or wife. And strong women would be defined by their strength and empowerment, not because that stood up with a voice. Things need to change. xoxo #metoo #familyfun #fridayfrolics
    Lisa Pomerantz recently posted…The Harry Potter Festival!My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      November 5, 2017 / 9:46 pm

      Thanks for your comment Lisa.

      Pen x

  7. November 6, 2017 / 10:09 am

    I think it is huge if someone steps up to say that they have done the wrong thing, I think so many abusers feel entitled to do what they have done, let us hope that after they admit what they have done that they seek help to change so they never do it again! It has always been my fear that my abuser has gone on to hurt others because I got away. #mg
    Mackenzie Glanville recently posted…Tips to help you avoid making excuses. #mg link upMy Profile

  8. November 6, 2017 / 1:22 pm

    I’m so sorry this is part of your story – and thankful that you have found words to put around it.
    Trusting that your brave sharing will encourage many to go and do likewise.
    Michele Morin recently posted…Embrace Fiercehearted LivingMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      November 7, 2017 / 10:15 pm

      Thanks Michele. Pen x

  9. November 6, 2017 / 1:50 pm

    #metoo a man in a supermarket queue felt my breasts.

    If people ask help to change because of this then they should be encouraged. It is brave of them to come out and say #Ihave

    Imperfect Mum recently posted…#PointShoot: Our week in Photos #7My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      November 7, 2017 / 10:15 pm

      A man in the supermarket queue felt your breasts – what!?!?!?!?! Thanks for your comment. Pen x

  10. November 6, 2017 / 3:34 pm

    Some men are pains on the face of earth – there was a time when I doubted every single man in a crowd, in a subway, in a bus, everywhere. we really shouldn’t silence the #Ihave story! #mg
    Tina Basu recently posted…Our First Halloween Party #MondayMusingsMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      November 7, 2017 / 10:12 pm

      Thanks Tina. Pen x

  11. November 6, 2017 / 4:14 pm

    Very thought provoking post. I have yet to meet a woman who doesn’t have a #metoo story, no matter how small, what was once the norm. needs to be made very wrong. As for the #ihaves, well that’s a nice idea but a lot of the #ihaves that I am aware of would lie through their teeth rather than admit what they did and it will take an awful lot for people like this to change. There always has to be a starting place for change though and I think that’s here, even if, in my opinion, it’s a bit late.

    • thesingleswan
      November 7, 2017 / 10:10 pm

      Hi Anne,

      I agree, it is a bit late, but better late than never. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      November 7, 2017 / 10:03 pm

      Thanks! Pen x

  12. November 7, 2017 / 7:48 am

    Very interesting post. It’s interesting how the sex talk with my eldest has changed from the kind of sex talk a few decades ago – now the physical part is the easiest part. It’s all the other stuff you need to know and consider. #MG

    • thesingleswan
      November 7, 2017 / 10:02 pm

      Hi Lydia,

      Yes you are right. Sex has changed. The strange thing is that for the younger generations, for teens these days, sex is not physical, it is virtual. We don’t need to worry so much about our daughters getting pregnant, but we do need to worry about images of their breasts going viral on the internet. Pen x

  13. November 7, 2017 / 10:23 am

    I agree there is always the other side and it takes lots of courage to admit to have done something awful and shameful. Thank you for sharing with #StayClassyMama

    • thesingleswan
      November 7, 2017 / 9:52 pm

      Thanks Pat. Pen x

  14. November 7, 2017 / 12:52 pm

    I really like your perspective as I think the sexual harassment is so embedded in our culture that so many men simply don’t see it as wrong. Now that we are fighting back, there are men who are realizing just how wrong they have been so we should give them a safe space to own up to their mistakes, apologize, or just talk about it. And we really need to start raising our boys to not only respect women (because unfortunately many men have a very narrow view of what that actually means) but to change the mentality that they are entitled to take whatever they want. #mg
    Michelle Kellogg recently posted…Dear Inner Child (Letter to Little Me)My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      November 7, 2017 / 9:44 pm

      Hi Michelle,

      You are absolutely right. Sexual harassment is so embedded in our culture that often neither men nor women see it as wrong. Sometimes it takes something big to help us to recognise these things. Thanks for your comment Michelle. Pen x

  15. Bridie By The Sea
    November 9, 2017 / 9:53 am

    I’m so sorry for the things you’ve been through, it’s so true that every woman has her #metoo story and for that I’m really sad. I would have liked to see more #ihave stories if I’m honest, as I have seen many situations through my previous role I’m TV – our receptionist who was propositioned by a 28 year old runner & told her “I’m going to have sex with you tonight” and another Senior Producer who put his hand up one of my teams’s skirt and told her he’d like to go to a hotel room with her. After both situations, the directors of the company told me it’s best not to say anything as they had sought legal advice and I found the whole thing so uncomfortable as a manager who should be protecting the people working for me. Sorry very long comment! #thursdayteam

    • thesingleswan
      November 10, 2017 / 9:40 pm

      Please don’t be sorry for the long comment – thank you. The biases and inequalities and discrimination are inherent and form the core of every part of our culture and society – law, work, home, family, culture. I don’t know how we break through this.

      thanks for sharing your story. I am a manager and, like you, I would have found it tremendously tough and uncomfortable to feel that I wasn’t able to defend and protect my teams.

      Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      November 10, 2017 / 9:26 pm

      Thanks Lisa

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