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4 Female Senators Shared Their #MeToo Stories, Proving How Terrifyingly Common Sexual Assault Is

As the powerful stories told via the #MeToo hashtag have already made clear, all too many women have some kind of experience being sexually harassed or assaulted — including four Democratic senators who have come forward with their stories.

As Teen Vogue reports, NBC’s Meet the Press asked all 21 female members of the U.S. Senate if they’d be willing to share stories they had of being sexually harassed or assaulted. Four of them, including Elizabeth Warren, Heidi Heitkamp, Mazie Hirono and Claire McCaskill, volunteered to speak about their experiences — demonstrating just how horrifyingly common it is for women to be taken advantage of in the workplace.

Warren’s story took place during her days as a “baby law professor,” as she says, when a senior faculty member, who often told dirty jokes and made comments about her appearance, asked her to come to his office.

“One day he asked me if I would stop by his office, which I didn’t think much about, and I did,” Warren said. “And he slammed the door and lunged for me. It was like a bad cartoon. He’s chasing me around the desk, trying to get his hands on me, and I kept saying, ‘You don’t want to do this. You don’t want to do this. I have little children at home. Please don’t do this,’ and trying to talk calmly. And at the same time, what was flickering through my brain is, If he gets ahold of me, I’m going to punch him right in the face.”

Warren continues that despite the fact that she managed to escape, she blamed herself for the incident afterwards, telling no one but her best friend. 

Senator McCaskill’s story is just as horrifying. During her start as a state legislator, she approached the speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives and asked for advice on how to get her first bill out of committee. “And he looked at me and he paused and he said, ‘Well, did you bring your knee pads?'” McCaskill says in NBC’s video.

Senator Hirono’s experiences mirrored those of McCaskill’s and Warrens. “I’ve been propositioned by teachers, by my colleagues, and, you know, you name it,” the Hawaii senator says.

Meanwhile, Senator Heitkamp says she was harassed by a law enforcement official who approached her while she was speaking at a domestic violence awareness event. “He pretty much put his finger in my face and he said, ‘Listen here, men will always beat their wives and you can’t stop ’em,'” Heitkamp said.

Moving forward, all four senators made it clear that it’s time for both women and men to create a culture in which this behavior is no longer tolerated — so men like Harvey Weinstein are forced to be held responsible for their actions, no matter how powerful they are. “We have to stick together, but it can’t just be a movement of women,” Heitkamp says in the video. “It has to be a cultural movement.”

Caroline is the Evening/Weekend Editor and Style Editor at Her Campus, a senior public relations major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a leather jacket enthusiast.  You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @c_pirozzolo. 
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