WARNING: READERS MAY FIND THE CONTENT IN THIS ARTICLE DISTURBING

The Cayman Compass asked readers to come forward with stories of sexual harassment on the islands. The response was overwhelming.

Today we highlight just some of the stories from the brave women and, in a few cases, men who stepped up to talk about an issue that has remained in the shadows for too long. Here, in their own words, our readers relate their encounters, not only with sexual harassment in Cayman but also with sexual assault.

“I have been harassed walking as men pulled over or slowed down their cars to start conversations, speak to my appearance, ask for dates, etc…

As a 20-something professional working to represent my employer and organisation I have been harassed by clients, professional partners, potential donors, and others trying to ‘score’. All of this was seen as ‘coming with the territory’ of being young and working in Cayman and dealing with men in positions of power.”

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“Spoken to by [a colleague] of a superior who promised favours, promotions in return for making oneself available for sexual favours, being touched in places that made me feel uneasy and sometimes just plain dirty.”

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“On one occasion, I was attacked in my sleep by a man assaulting me. On other occasions, it’s been leering and inappropriate comments.”

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“There were too many instances. The one that stands out the most is being a young child of about 12 and a much older man was licking his lips at me.”

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“Many years ago, a pest-control man pressed himself up behind me and said he would like to get to know me better. This happened when he came to my rental property to spray for pests. He backed off when I told him to, but left me very uncomfortable.”

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“I’ve had superiors at work make inappropriate passes. In a separate experience, a well-known politician got far too ‘handsy’ on a dance floor in front of my husband when we were both expatriates. Some men at the bar tried to encourage my husband to get physically aggressive with this individual but we tried to discreetly make an exit.”

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“I was touched inappropriately during a meeting. Repeatedly having someone move their foot up and down my leg.”

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“Co-worker rubbed on me from behind with his hard-on.”

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“A man capitalised on a situation when I was not in a state to respond properly, which is one of many examples I can give.”

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“I have been asked to expose myself and have also been raped after I blacked out.”

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“My first experiences started early in childhood. Cat calling, being groped by grown men and being groomed by adults, all before the age of 10, not to mention my teen years where I had been assaulted and groomed. The cat-calling never stopped. I feared for my safety and constantly was too afraid to speak up.”

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“At a construction retail store counter, I was addressed like it was at a pick-up bar. Innuendos and suggestive comments directed at you.”

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“I was sitting alone at the back of my workplace eating lunch and approached by a construction worker/handy man from a development next door. He somehow knew my name and proceeded to sit down, make small talk before asking me personal questions about my love life and my sexuality.

I said, ‘That’s a very strange question to ask someone you don’t know, and even stranger that I don’t know your name. Who do you think you are to invade someone’s personal space on their personal property?’ He didn’t seem phased. I was so uncomfortable I had to walk away.”

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“Just one example… My boss took me out for lunch to ‘discuss my future with the firm’. During lunch he asked me directly if I would have an affair with him. I politely declined and he wrapped up lunch quietly and proclaimed that perhaps my future with the firm wasn’t as bright as he’d hoped. Ironically… he had been appointed as my mentor.”

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“It’s living in fear constantly. Knowing I can’t walk alone because I have been… followed by cars and strangers; all I want to do is walk.

It’s only ever wanting to go through the drive-through with another male present in the car because I have been in fact asked and told obscenely inappropriate things by the strangers handling my food; all I want to do is get food.

It’s going to a restaurant and the server taking my name from my debit card and finding me on social media to send me phallic messages; all I want to do is enjoy time with friends.

It’s planning when to go to the grocery store to avoid bigger crowds in hopes that I won’t be followed or stared at like I have been since I was 12; all I want to do is get groceries.

It’s having your life turned upside down after being taken advantage of in a swimming pool; all I wanted to do was swim. It’s living constantly in fear; all I want to do is live freely.”

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“Unpleasant. Men feel entitled to your attention. I have been told to smile more, I have been asked where I lived, I have had men yell at me from their car and some just take to honking their horn for your attention.

I get comments on my body. Last year I had a man follow me and I had to duck into a public store where the man banged on the glass and called for me to come outside. It was only when another man told him to leave that he finally left.”

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“Too numerous to count.”

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“Cat-calling while dog walking, etc…”

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“Started when I was a minor and continued into adulthood. Happened while walking on the side of the road, in a supermarket, at school, in the club. It’s everywhere.”

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“Everything from catcalls in the street to drunken kiss attempts from my boss at work functions, to kiss attempts from clients at work functions. Also, lack of promotion and opportunities at work due to rampant gender discrimination.”

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“It was a nightmare, but I was fully awake.”

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“There were numerous occasions. I was sexually molested as a child by a neighbour, a much older guy (I was 13/14, he was 23/24) kept asking me to be topless on web cam, I would get cat-called by men driving by (I was a minor), male classmates would grope me or say sexually degrading comments. I’m now 31 but it was relentless when I was younger.”

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“Many! Inappropriate messages, dick pics from complete strangers online.”

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“Multiple, multiple times. While working for government and managing a private enterprise which is in a male-dominated industry. I have also been harassed in the supermarket and stalked by someone I happened to be waiting in line with at the bank.”

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“Sexual harassment and almost raped. Had to fight the person off me. Having my drinks spiked without knowledge and passing out to wake up with a stranger undressing me. And my so-called friends whom I would go out with? Nowhere to help. Instead of taking me home when they noticed something not usual, they seemed to just abandon me. I was young and naive, I never noticed it then but as time went by, my eyes opened and I began to realise that.

To avoid it all, I stopped seeing all my so-called friends.

Being intoxicated, taken advantage of while not stable, barely waking into consciousness to find some stranger forcing themself upon me, undressing my clothing. At the same time, I am feeling lost and afraid – I have always been ashamed to tell my experience because of others/public looking at me saying ‘It’s my fault, I was looking for it, I deserved it’ – that is just how Cayman does it and it is very sad. During my scary moments. I was below the age of 24.”

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“A man in a superior position to me (but not my boss) tried to hold my hand [and] to hug me repeatedly during a work social event.”

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“In middle school a groundsman made unwanted advances at me on a repeated basis.”

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“The boss during our international travels will turn really friendly as if we were a unit just to show off in front of clients… he would also act or speak (inappropriately), especially when drunk at events.”

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“Asked for sex, touched inappropriately, generally unwanted and sexual advancements.”

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“My sexual harassment was verbal. My director would make constant comments about my appearance, that I should have a breast augmentation, comments about my sex life, and comments about how I got male clients by sleeping with them.

Beyond that, sexual jokes about oral sex were a constant in the office. It became increasingly uncomfortable. My director created a very hostile work environment for all women in the office, but we were all treated differently. Unfortunately, I was the one to receive all of the sexual comments, jokes, and uncomfortable statements. I could go on and on.”

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“Out in public – in parking lots (cat calls), at parties (obvious staring and kissing noises), walking around my neighbourhood (similar behaviour as described). At work – supervisor: attempting to kiss me after hours, making lewd jokes at the office, describing sexual exploitations unsolicited and inappropriately.”

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“I was pushed and pinned to the bed, which he had considered ‘playful’, even when I said no.”

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“At bars and beaches, comments being made while minding my own business.”

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“While at work, whispered to me and said he wants to go in between my legs, then the next incident he asked about size of my panty.”

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“Physical groping by a stranger, horn-honking by drivers, strangers insisting on walking with me places.”

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“Ongoing harassment began around the age of 12.”

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“Multiple experiences. Simple stuff like hair/shoulder/chest fondling, to outright having women grabbing genitals. I have had women ‘get comfortable’ sitting on my lap, etc. Most of the time, as a male, you are expected to play along, but certainly never be offended. ‘Look, now, you made that girl feel bad about herself and she was only playing with you.’”

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“Drunk expats (British) forcing themselves.”

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“Going to a public building to complete errands and a security guard was blocking the entrance with his body and looked at me lustfully. I told him I needed to get inside and he smiled at me saying he was distracted by my ‘beautiful smile’ and proceeded to keep blocking my path to enter the building.

He kept in that spot until I had to entertain his flirting just to enter a building. I felt as though rejecting his advances would’ve put me in harm’s way.”

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“Had to keep it quiet because my life felt threatened.”

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“Males at the grocery store making hissing sounds, following on the street.”

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“It’s not just one time, it has happened numerous times in the workplace (almost everywhere I have worked) and socially.”

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“Older men constantly reached out to me and make sexual comments while I was underage.”

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