Like many women, I have my own Harvey Weinstein-like stories.

Most women have been sexually harassed many times in their lives.

Although the story of Harvey Weinstein misusing his power and influence to sexually harass and abuse women is shocking to many, the pattern of his obnoxious and unconscionable behavior is nothing new to our culture. Indeed, most women can name more than one time in their life when someone like Weinstein tried to pressure them with unwanted sexual talk, physical contact or advances, including me.

One incident that comes to mind is when I worked for the Hearst-owned San Antonio-Express News  and was a very green and inexperienced reporter who was eager to learn and please. A managing editor from a Midland Hearst-owned paper came around the newsroom to meet everyone and see what the San Antonio paper was doing. He kept coming by my desk to chat throughout the day, and finally asked if I would go for a drink with him after work. I was a single mom, it was not my night with the kids, I thought I might learn something from him, so I said yes.

We got together and soon he began touching and trying to kiss me. I refused. We were having dinner in a restaurant and luckily I saw another reporter and her husband walk in, and I begged them to come sit with us. He continued his obnoxious and unwanted pursuit right in front of them. I was terrified to be too mean to him because in essence, he was a boss.

As soon as I took him back to his hotel I called my managing editor and told him what happened. Human Resources was brought in the next morning, the man completely admitted it, and what his punishment was going to be was all that needed to be decided. The paper begged me not to encourage his firing, as he was beloved by his staff in Midland. They promised they would demote him and see to it that he did not advance in his career, so I agreed.

A few years ago I checked to see what he was doing. Yep, he was editor of the newspaper – a huge promotion. So much for justice. I was told back then that I could sue the paper for all of this and expect to get about $40,000, but I would never be allowed to work in the newspaper business again.

I was labeled a troublemaker – shame on me for wanting a better world.

So you might understand why I had a reaction when reading that NBC quashed correspondent Ronan Farrow’s reporting on the Harvey Weinstein scandal. By all accounts, Farrow had women ready and willing to tell their stories, and also had the damning secret recordings of Weinstein doing his ugly sexual bullying. At one point NBC told Farrow to stop pursuing the story altogether. Finally they released him to report it elsewhere, and the rest is history — like the Berlin Wall, Weinstein came tumbling down, and deservedly so.

Reading all of this caused me to remember numerous incidents in my own life like the one above, and still another one while reporting as a features writer and columnist at the Express-News in the late 1990’s. For two years as I was chief reporter for Fiesta, a 10-day long party fest and festival with numerous events and parades from morning til night. I knew almost everyone involved in every aspect of events.

There is a Fiesta King each year, crowned by a group of men known as the Texas Cavaliers. The Cavaliers is a by-invitation-only organization and at that time consisted of mainly privileged white men who were conservative old rich, though I know they have since sprinkled in some men of color. They wear outfits that are bright sky blue with red trim, that look eerily similar to Nazi uniforms, and organize a River Parade during Fiesta that is world-renowned.

A huge Fiesta tradition is collecting Fiesta medals, and King Antonio has medals he or his assistants pin on the public he encounters.

This particular year I was getting a lot of voice mails and emails (mainly anonymous) claiming that old King Antonio was using pinning medals as an excuse to stick his hands in women’s bras and cop a feel or a pinch. The more I looked into it, I found women who said it happened to them, and that their boyfriend or husband saw it and was furious and it was all they could do to keep their partner from throwing King Antonio a purple shiner to go with his fancy red plume. One woman who talked to me was a local news anchor.

I took it to the editor of the paper, and each time he told me to gather more information. Whatever I had was never enough. Finally, a man called me who was a Cavalier insider, and he told me that the King had commanded that all flat-chested women be pinned by his assistants, and big-bosomed women reserved for him. Another woman called and told me that the Party Pix guy, who roamed many of the events, had snapped a photograph of her with King Antonio pinning a medal on her, and in it you could see The King’s hand far inside her dress, which was a tank-like garden dress. I went to the Party Pix store, and after roaming through several hundred photographs, found the one she told me about and a few others.

I bought those photographs and the editor said it wasn’t enough. The story never ran, and I was pretty disgusted and disillusioned about it. This sort of editorial omission has been going on forever. Every reporter has seen it. If the editor rubs elbows with the people you have found some unpleasant truths about, the chances of the story running can be small.

I hope we are entering a new era where women can courageously speak out against any sort of violation perpetrated on them by men, and especially the ones who abuse their power and position, and find a media with the equal amount of courage to report it. How else will we ever change this dark piece of our culture?

In the end, I had gotten to know many Cavaliers because of my reporting of their many Fiesta events and participation, and we had an extremely cordial relationship. When word spread that I was working on a story about their King that wasn’t so positive, many criticized me to my face, and I was shunned by the organization and the men in it. So the person doing the investigating risks isolation or personal and professional damage. Something all whistleblower types know a lot about. This is why so many women don’t speak out. The finger gets pointed at us. We become trouble-makers and lose friends and goodwill in the community and workplace.

As for me, I am grateful that this may be coming to an end. We all have to have to have the courage to fight for what is right, and men need to learn to treat us with respect, without exception.

How The World Screws Us Up

Common things people say and do that screw us up.

A therapist’s life can be complicated. We go to school and intern for years, we study, write and read a zillion books and articles, we do research and walk away with a bunch of extremely helpful knowledge about how to be happier, healthier, and a better person and family member. The fact that we aren’t allowed to tell every dysfunctional person we see out in the world how they can apply what we know to their life stinks. Why can’t we do it?

1. Counseling ethics dictate that we can’t pursue people for therapy. They have to come to us.
2. Appropriate boundaries for all of us means acknowledging that all adults have free will to do as they please, so long as it doesn’t cause damage or hurt others. Unsolicited fixing and advice is a boundary violation.

So, since I can’t say anything to anyone unless they ask, here is what my life can be like:

• A couple at the grocery store verbally lashing out at their child and I walk past with zipped lips.

• A couple obnoxiously bicker and make cutting remarks to one another at a dinner party while I glance down, digging my nails into my thighs under my napkin.

• Someone says something on television or in the media that I know will reinforce some wrong or misleading idea that will influence people negatively.

So, it can be difficult to know what I know and sit back and observe the things people say, but I can write about them in a blog so long as I don’t call anyone out. So here goes:

He’s so selfless. The person saying this means it as a compliment and I wince each time I hear it. The average person will deduct from this that is not OK to do for yourself, which is not true. In fact, it is necessary to put yourself first and to make sure you’re healthy and happy in mind, body, and spirit before you can start doing for others.

All that attention and love is going to spoil her. As far as I know, there is not an amount of attention, love, time and affection that is too much. Give all you can, whenever you can. The only issue here is to make sure your giving nature doesn’t create expectations, and you do that by setting boundaries with the people you do things for.

That’s selfish. I hate this word and think it should be removed from the English language as it also discourages lack of self-care. Selfishness is lack of consideration for others. To do nice or generous things for yourself is not selfish.

Well, that girl is one who follows her own drummer. When I’ve heard this, the speaker usually meant that the person was different in a bad or look-down-your-nose way, with the implication that if you are outside the box there is something wrong with you. This will encourages those who are different from the rest to feel bad about themselves.

She thinks she’s better than anyone else. This should never be said. Most people that are judged in this way are simply shy and introverted, and may even have social anxiety. They give off the impression that they aren’t interested in others, but the truth is it causes them such inner turmoil to interact that they just stay away. Anyway, it is a boundary violation to guess or assume what other people think or feel, or why they do what they do. Instead of assuming, why not ask the person themselves about it?

These patterns of communication screw us up because of what will be insinuated from them. People often don’t feel safe to let others know what they’re thinking, feeling or doing out of fear of hearing stuff like I listed above. My advice is to do be yourself, do what you want so long as it doesn’t hurt you or others, and forget about what about what society judges will say. I promise you that they don’t know what they’re talking about, anyway.

Huffington Post blogger Brittany Wong recently quoted Dr. Becky in an article focusing on the discussions couples need to have before getting married:

It may not be the sexiest way to spend a Saturday night, but discussing big-ticket relationship issues like family planning, money and monogamy could be the best way for couples to stave off a future split.

In fact, the ability to broach big, difficult conversations early on is one of the most important qualities in a new relationship, said Alicia H. Clark, a psychologist in Washington, D.C.,

“You can’t know how you work through disagreements until you have them,” she told HuffPost. “Disagreeing, arguing and fighting about these things will reveal what’s really important to you both. And knowing how your partner will handle conflict is almost just as important.”

What thorny conversations are crucial? Below, marriage therapists and psychologists share their top 10 picks.

The talk about what you want to change about each other. (Be honest, you know you want to.)

“A lot of partners enter marriage with a secret hope that something will change about their partner: He’ll spend less time with his friends when we’re building a family, she’ll spend less money shopping when we’re in this together, I’ll get him to cut back on his drinking. Holding on to these silent hopes can be very destructive to the long-term health and happiness of your marriage. Disclosing them before marriage can actually foster the change you want in a more effective way.”― Kurt Smith, a therapist who specializes in counseling men

The money talk.

“You need to have a long, potentially difficult discussion about money. Go over a few things: Will one or both of you work? What will your general approach to money management be? Will you save every penny, adopt a spend-it-while-we-have-it attitude or have a more middling approach? Many people operate with a ‘we’ll figure it out together as we go’ approach and while that may work if the couple has similar thoughts on finances, if they don’t, it can lead to a relationship war. One party may feel like like their style is forever being cramped, while the other may feel that their partner is leading the family towards financial ruin.” ― Laurel Steinberg, a New York-based relationship therapist and professor of psychology at Columbia University

The sex talk.

“If you suspect your partner’s need for sexual intimacy doesn’t match yours, don’t overlook it. You might want to believe it’s an insignificant issue or once you get married it will work itself out, but sex should be easiest in the first couple years of any relationship. If you’re unsure of your sexual compatibility now, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have problems in the bedroom later on when kids and life enter the picture. Sex is the one thing that cannot be outsourced in marriage. Problem with division of labor? Hire out for help. Different needs for social relationships? One partner joins a club and the other stays home. Sexual frustration is unique because it can only be solved within the marriage. Resentment grows and the higher libido partner will eventually feel betrayed by their partner’s lack of interest. The end result? Festering resentment and, often, the belief that infidelity is justified.” ― Caroline Madden, a marriage and family therapist in Burbank, California

The personal space talk.

“Discuss your need for time alone, or apart from one another. People often overlook this topic initially but after the intense bonding of the early stages, one or both of them may want a bit of time to themselves, or time apart as they go out with friends. If this isn’t discussed beforehand, one partner may feel ditched or jealous, or one of them could begin to feel suffocated and start building resentments. A conversation early on about the normal desire to have some time alone could help distinguish individual needs for solitude from rejection, and allow partners to ask for alone time when they need it and enjoy the time they spend together even more.” ― Ryan Howes, a psychologist in Pasadena, California

The talk about kids.

“It’s so important for a couple to have a straightforward, candid conversation, not only about whether they in fact want to have children, but their beliefs and values about navigating the parenting journey. Do either or both have rigid ideas about waiting to start the process or plunging right in? Do either have strong beliefs about infertility treatments or adoption, should there be difficulty conceiving? Has there been a discussion about religious beliefs and expectations about the religious upbringing of the child? Go over it all.” ― Linda Lipshutz, a psychotherapist in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

The talk about how you’ll raise those kids.

“I see couples’ getting into power struggles a lot about raising kids ‘their way’ because they believe it’s the ‘right way’ with complete disregard for their partner’s preference and perspective. Having parents on the same team (knowing that it often takes work to get there) is imperative to the mental health and well being of children. Ask: Do you share the same core values? Do you agree on what qualities and behaviors from your own families you want to borrow and which you don’t?” ― Megan Fleming, a New York City-based psychologist and sex therapist

The monogamy talk.

“Most couples do want a monogamous marriage; however, monogamy can mean different things to different people, and without an honest conversation it is easy to imagine that your fiancé shares your views. Dig deeper, though: Are you comfortable with your soon-to-be spouse grabbing dinner with an ex who is in town on business? Are you comfortable with private or public friendships with an ex on social media? What about colleagues of the opposite sex? Will you be comfortable if you both have work that involves travel with attractive colleagues? And how might you want to navigate such situations if they arise? What if one of you develops a crush? It can be helpful to explore hypothetical challenges to monogamy through honest conversations before marriage.” ― Elisabeth J. LaMotte, a psychotherapist and founder of the DC Counseling and Psychotherapy Center

The talk about family traditions and rituals.

“Rituals are not only traditions around major holidays, but how you spend your weekends or how you should (or shouldn’t) eat together during dinnertime: Have you always sat at the table as a family or is it fine to eat separately or in front of the TV? By having these discussions before they happen, you can also stand as a united front if you get any push back from your parents about changes to family traditions. Having these discussions can help you recognize your similarities, make room for your differences and create your own culture as a married couple.” ― Danielle Kepler, a therapist in Chicago, Illinois

The talk about how you’ll handle future problems.

“You both need to know that your partner will do whatever is necessary to deal with future obstacles in the relationship, be it physical, emotional, mental or financial. For instance, if your partner gets depression or develops an anxiety disorder, many spouses would choose to not have it treated, or to ignore it or to mask it with medications or alcohol. Each person needs to know that the other will work to clear any obstacles that come along to the best of their ability. If the marriage falters, will you go to counseling with me and stick with it to work it out? We all need to know that our partner is action-oriented as opposed to being a person who sweeps things under the rug or just says, ‘This is me, deal with it.’” ― Becky Whetstone, a marriage family therapist in Little Rock, Arkansas

The “what’s your ideal marriage?” talk.

“Every premarital couple needs to clearly outline their expectations for themselves, their partner and the marriage they desire early on in the relationship and continue that conversation well into the marriage. Resentment creeps into relationships when you feel you are owed something, have been treated unfairly and is a mixture of disappointment, anger and fear. To that end, be vigilant: Set the bar high for your marriage and for yourself and stay in constant conversation about how you are staying the course. ― Laura Heck, a marriage and family therapist in Salt Lake City, Utah

Original article posted on July 19, 2017 by Brittany Wong at Huffington Post.