A man groped her as she left the concert — and she decided to take action
Michele Howley was taking in a Chris Stapleton show with her mom and grandmother over the weekend. On their way out, a man walking by the trio decided it was perfectly fine to touch Howley’s butt — more than once.
“I felt something hit me from behind, specifically hitting the right side of my butt,” she wrote. “I turned around, a group of guys were walking behind me. They snickered. I thought, ‘It was probably an accident. People bump into each other all the time at concerts.’ I thought I heard someone say, ‘Do it again.’ But I dismissed it, thinking I probably misheard.”
Howley soon discovered that it was definitely not an accident.
“Less than a minute later, I felt someone slowly run their fingers over my right butt cheek from the bottom & squeeze. I was wearing a long, velvet skirt – I could feel it all – and the heat of his hand.”
She wasn’t having it.
“I whipped around, I pushed him backward and I screamed ‘Don’t you ever f***ing touch a women like that. That man just grabbed my ass!’ He gave me a dopey face and put his hands up in the air, as if pleading innocence,” she writes. “Two security personal who happened to be standing by grabbed him and motioned for me to follow. I was hot with anger.”
The jerk’s friend ran up to Howley in a pathetic attempt at defending his bro. “How can you blame him? It’s not his fault you have a nice ass,” he told her. When she wasn’t backing down, he told her she was overreacting. Because of course he did.
Once they arrived at the security office, Howley says it was her story against his — and naturally, his friends said he would never do that. They called Howley a liar.
When the police arrived, they asked if she wanted to press charges. She told them she wasn’t sure. “They told me that I’d have to stay for a lot longer while they did the paper work, that I’d have to show at not one, but probably multiple court dates,” she says. “They said it would be hard to prove.”
Then, Howley began to doubt herself. “My anger faltered and a small voice emerged in my head, ‘Is it really that big of a deal? He just grabbed my butt. Stuff like this does happen all the time. I don’t want to hold these people up. I don’t want to have to make my mom and Grandma wait.'”
She decided to give it some thought while the police interviewed the groper and his friend. It was their word against hers now.
At this point, the head of security told Howley she should press charges. Her mom and grandmother agreed and the voice in her head that previously said it wasn’t that big of a deal began to fade. It was replaced with anger.
“Why WASN’T it a big deal that man felt entitled to not only touch my butt once, but confidently and invasively grab it for a second time?
Why was I expected to take it as a compliment?
Why was I worried about burdening the police officers with paper work? Why was I worried about being believed?
Why was my first reaction anger, quickly followed by self doubt?
Why was it ‘just an ass grab?'”
Before the concert, Howley and her mother and grandmother had discussed the Kavanaugh hearings and their hope that one day men wouldn’t feel entitled to grabbing or hurting women.
“As we waited, I thought to myself that maybe it had to start with not dismissing the small things. To stop saying, ‘it’s just an ass grab.’ To stop dismissing what we’ve been taught as women to withstand and tolerate,” she writes.
The police came back from interviewing the man and asked again if she would like to press charges. They told her that since no penetration occurred and he didn’t touch her genitals that it wouldn’t be considered sexual assault, but battery. “I gave my answer with the same confidence that he grabbed my ass with,” she writes.
The man was led away in handcuffs. He would have to post bail, she says. And get an attorney. “I didn’t care if I couldn’t prove that it happened in front of a judge. I’d take it as far as it could go. In part for myself, yes, but really for all women (and men) who know this same experience far too well, and who experience far, far worse,” she says.
As her post has spread, people have worried about Howley’s legal fees. She tells Scary Mommy that she will be represented by the state and her first court date is November 27th.
Many have reached out to tell Howley about their own experiences. Some are lauding her for taking action, but she wants to point out that these things have happened many times before — and she did nothing. She wants other women to know that those are didn’t report “are still so incredibly brave for simply surviving beyond their experience.” Howley stresses that in sharing her story, she doesn’t want to shame any woman’s choice to not come forward, “but to inspire the next action they take.”
By pressing charges, she’s dismissing the small voice that tells her that speaking up over something like this is “an inconvenience.”
“I’m saying goodbye to the temptation to believe ‘it’s just an ass grab.’ You grabbed the wrong, right butt cheek, homie. I’ll see you in court.”