Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, recently took to Facebook to detail her experiences with sexual assault and harassment, the latest with a colleague, she told southern Colorado-focused newsmagazine PULP.
Posts tagged with “Me Too” have been widely shared across the internet after several women alleged Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein had sexually assaulted or harassed them.
Esgar recounted the incident, which Esgar said had happened to her a week earlier, to PULP:
As she was standing, waiting to say goodbye and slip off to the next gathering, Esgar said she felt a hand wrap around her thigh “and start moving upward.”
“There was a table of people around that didn’t realize what had just happened,” said Esgar, who exclaimed, “Oh my gosh!” as she quickly realized she was groped by a man she only described as somebody she regularly works with sitting at the table.
The response from the man was, “Now, darling. You don’t need to make a scene,” according to Esgar.
Esgar didn’t name names in the article, but said it was a colleague she works with on a regular basis.
She also said in her post and to PULP that this wasn’t her first experience with sexual assault or harassment: The first time she can remember being sexually harassed was before she was old enough to go to school. Esgar also said she’d been in two abusive relationships.
The outpouring of similar stories have taken social media by storm. Rebecca Cranston, who is running for Senate District 15, said in a Facebook post she was a survivor of human trafficking.
And a two-page letter from 150 California lawmakers, lobbyists and staffers encourages other women to speak up about unwanted advances rather than stay silent.
“As women leaders in politics, in a state that postures itself as a leader in justice and equality, you might assume our experience has been different,” the open letter reads.
Esgar told PULP she wants to use her platform to advocate for other women who’ve had similar experiences as she’s had:
“The therapy I went through helped me because of what happened. Every single day I’m working to stand up for people at the Capitol. I try to hold myself in that strength and to move me forward and be strong not just for myself but for the people I make decisions for everyday.”
House Speaker Crisanta Duran also commented, saying, “it’s clear that this is an issue that impacts us all, and we should all strive to create a more inclusive, safe, and respectful environment, in the legislature and more broadly.”