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Nevertheless, she existed

cher profile image Cher Updated on ・12 min read

I was sexually abused when I was 5 by a family friend.

I was sexually harassed by my father's apartment manager from age 10 (when I started growing breasts) until he moved out when I was nearly an adult.

When I was 13-17, I was physically assaulted, groped, and sexually harassed repeatedly by my step-father.

I was raped outside of my middle school when I was 14.

When I was 15, I was physically assaulted by a boy who wanted me to go to homecoming with him who I didn't really know and said no to.

When I was 15, I met a boy on EverQuest who claimed to be 15. I revealed too much information about myself and he drove from Michigan to my middle school. He followed my bus home and asked me to run away with him. I managed to convince him I was going inside to get my things and I sat in my closet with the phone open to 911 in case he came inside. He was in his late 20's.

When I was 15, I talked to some guy from a Napster chatroom who claimed he was 17. I gave him my email and he sent me sexual emails and told me he wanted to meet me and have sex. He sent me pictures of himself nude and he turned out to be a grown man.

When I was 15, one of my male teachers said that I had the body of a woman and he would go to jail if he didn't know better.

When I was 16, a popular guy from school walked up to me and stuck his tongue in my mouth. He had a girlfriend, and spread rumors that I had been the one to do it because someone saw and continued to spread this image that I was a tramp. When I was 19 he begged me to have sex with him until I gave up and let him, and when I told him I didn't want to do it anymore he offered me money to continue. After he got married he begged me to have a threesome with his wife and then asked if he could fly me out see me in secret, and again, offered to pay me.

A popular boy who lived down the street from me when I was 16 asked me to tutor him in math after we had danced at the homecoming football game in 10th grade. I agreed, and when I got to his house he asked me to go to the basement with him. He pushed me down onto his family's pool table and asked me what all I wanted to do. I laid there, completely silent, shocked. I shook my head and let him do what he wanted. He came on my shirt and went to his sister's bathroom and came back and blow dried the spot it left, while I continued to lay there. He told everyone in the school I was a slut.

When I was 16, my best friend's older brother said I would grow up to be a stripper, and that I was the kind of girl you fuck and don't call.

When I was 16 and 17, I was sexually harassed and groped by my 25-year-old shift supervisor at KFC.

When I was 16, I started sleeping with a 20-year-old drug dealer who would pick me up from school. He passed me around to some of his friends. One of them was 28.

When I was 17, one of my best friend's boyfriends, also someone I considered a friend, showed up at my house drunk and climbed in my window. He pushed me into having sex with him, even though I was clearly not into it. He told everyone at school I was the instigator and my friend and I didn't speak for years.

When I was 18, I got a new job and my manager told me he had a dream about me, naively I asked what it was and he closed the door and proceeded to describe the sexually explicit dream and ask if I was interested in acting on it. I stopped coming to the job the next day.

When I was 18, I was stalked by a guy I talked to online. He used information I had told him to pretend to by what he was convinced was my soulmate.

When I was 18, I agreed to tutor a boy in math in the high school I had just enrolled myself in. When I got to his house he offered me some weed and I after I smoked he climbed on top of me and climbed on top of me and I felt forced into having sex with him.

When I was 18, I was walking down a street late at night drunk and high out of my mind to get some Hungry Howie's pizza. A man stopped and asked if I wanted a ride home and bought my pizza. He took me back to his apartment and raped me.

When I was 18, I attended a party at a friend's house. I passed out on the couch and when I woke up our mutual friend was sitting on top of me with my breasts exposed jacking off. He said, "sorry" when I came to and brought me a paper towel to clean myself up.

When I was 18, I attended a party at a friend's house and agreed to use some drugs in the bathroom with my friend's boyfriend, who I considered a friend at the time. He pushed my head down onto his penis and forced me to give him oral sex until he came in my mouth and made me swallow it.

When I was 19, I attended a party at a friend's apartment and while she was passed out her boyfriend slid his hand up my skirt inside my panties while I was leaning over the couch trying to wake my friend up.

When I was 19, I attended a frat party and entered a wet t-shirt contest in the pool. After winning this competition, I had one drink and felt like I had had done a keg stand. I lost track of my friends and one of the frat brothers asked me if I wanted a towel. I followed him to what he called "the towel room" and there were 5-6 fraternity brothers. I was raped by all of them in the room they took me to, but was unconscious for most of it.

When I was 19, I attended a party at a friend of a friend's apartment and was told I could sleep in her roommate's bed when I got really sleepy. I awoke to her roommate and one of his friend's raping me at the same time.

When I was 19, I was invited by some friends to a poker tournament. When I got there I was the only girl, and when I tried to buy-in, they refused to take my money and told me just to play. When I lost a hand they informed me instead of losing chips that I'd be losing my clothes. Because of my previous experience at the frat house, I did what they said. They told me I could leave if I masturbated for them while they took video, so I did it, and left.
I wound up driving for hours the wrong way on the freeway because I was in shock.

When I was 19-21, I started stripping and was verbally abused and threatened with sexual and other physical violence hundreds of times.

When I was 19, I moved halfway across the country into a roommate situation, and the first night I was there, my friend and new roommate came into my room and I woke up to his hand in my panties. He climbed on top of me and we had sex. I felt pushed into the situation and unable to say no, so I just let it happen. I felt pushed into being his girlfriend since we already lived together for 2 years.

When I was 19, I was lured into traveling to New York state, thousands of miles from my home, to discuss getting into the porn industry. I was gang raped by the man who tricked me and 4 other men. They sodomized me with numerous objects, including a plunger and a beer bottle, and I was shaved and urinated on. This was all video taped, and existed online for many years. I tried to kill myself the following week. He harassed me via email and phone (until I changed it) for nearly a decade afterward. He was employed, married, and had children. The man who organized this went to prison for sex trafficking.

When I was 19, I pursued an acting career and needed headshots taken. The photographer forced me to take my clothes off and he told me that to make it in entertainment "these days" every woman has to.

When I was 19-25, I was sexually harassed repeatedly in the restaurant industry, by managers, coworkers, and restaurant patrons, especially when I worked in a bar area.

When I was 19-25, I was passed around by my drug dealer boyfriends so they could get discounts on the cocaine and heroin they bought.

When I was 21, I stayed with a friend when my ex had kicked me out, and he told me the following morning he had peaked on me while I was drunkenly passed out and told me I had "the perfect pussy". I tried to remain friends with him because I had nowhere else to go at the time and didn't have a job. He told literally everyone we came into contact with that the best part of me was my "perfect vagina".

When I was 19-21 I was groped repeatedly at clubs. At one in particular on Cinco De Mayo, a man stuck his whole hand in my shirt and felt my breast.

I was 24 when I stopped off the highway to see if a man in a broke down truck needed assistance. He asked me if I could buy him some gasoline and I agreed to. He drove us to an abandoned warehouse and raped me.

When I was 25-31, I was sexually harassed repeatedly in the World of Warcraft community. One man I was involved with consensually posted pictures online I sent of myself to him and others he obtained through nefarious means after I ended things and started talking to someone else. He used a program that would continue to re-upload them after I got them taken down. He also hacked into my Skype and other accounts so that he could read my conversations with other people.

When I was 26, I moved to the area where one of my male online friends lived. The first night I was there he asked if we could hang out, I agreed and he immediately started making me feel guilty for not wanting to sleep with him because he was a virgin. He berated me and told me it was extremely unfair so I just let him do what he wanted to do. I felt pressured to be in a relationship with him after that so I continued to see him for several months until I couldn't stand the idea of being forced into another relationship and stopped talking to him.

When I was 27, a man I had thought was my friend publicly disowned and berated me for starting a relationship with someone in our community because he felt I was "his".

When I was 27, one of the men who had seen the previous revenge porn and saved it was angry that I had started seeing someone and repeatedly posted the images he saved in Twitch chats. These images were saved by a revenge porn hoarding predator and circulated to hundreds of thousands of people. They were discussed at length and circulated among my friends. Men in the gaming community discussed my anatomy in their streams and berated me as a whore/"egirl". I was messaged by friends from previous communities, telling me they jacked off to my pictures and wanted to hook up. When I was 32, I wrote an article because that same man became a Twitch mod and a community moderator for Blizzard's Overwatch Twitch channel. I was stalked (in person) and harassed by hundreds of men from the gaming community.

When I was 29, I went to Dreamhack Europe with some friends and at a party told the team manager of Team Dignitas that I could only drink Tequila because Vodka made me black out. When I got really drunk he got me a shot of vodka and I blacked out. He continued to ask my friend if he had a chance and tried to get into my taxi to go back to the hotel with me. He turned out to be married.

When I was 30, someone in a Twitch chat donated to my stream several times and asked for my Skype, he was a moderator in a friend's Twitch stream, so I asked the friend about him and he said he was safe. I gave him my Skype. This man proceeded to offer me money to send him nude photographs. I told him, no, and he offered me more money to meet up with him in person for sex. I declined, and he threatened me with violence. He showed up at my house and I had to move. He turned out to be in the military and I had to get a restraining order against him. I told our mutual friend about it, and he said he didn't believe me as the guy had always been "decent and generous to him".

When I was 30, I was serially harassed by a coworker at Blizzard who wanted to date me, and I tried to be friendly with him. When he wouldn't stop coming onto me aggressively, I asked him to leave me alone. He refused, so I blocked him on social media. After that, he told one of our other coworkers that I had posted his phone number on imgur (I never asked for his phone number, nor did I ever save it if he gave it to me) telling people to send him disgusting texts and pictures. When I saw him at our company Christmas party, I avoided him again, and he pretended not to know who I was. When he was pigeon-holed into quitting, he filed a sexual harassment complaint against me. Of course, it was not revealed it was him, but because they told me the person had just quit, I knew it was him. He had the audacity to message me on OK Cupid a few months later and ask me out again.

When I was 30-32 I was sexually harassed by several individuals in the gaming industry while I was trying to get into journalism and hosting. The innuendo and flirting led me to believe that I had to trade myself for opportunities. I lost opportunities when I didn't act on these advances.

When I was 30, I attended PAX East as a journalist for USA Today Games. There was a snafu with my hotel on the second night and a Blizzard employee offered me his empty bed. He ended up coming onto me and I found somewhere else to stay the next night. He turned out to be married.

When I was 31, I attended an XBOX party in LA and while I was sitting at a table with a friend, a man in PR in the industry approached me and asked me if I would "go back to his house in the Hollywood Hills and fuck" him. I told him no and he got very belligerent and asked if I'd at least "suck his dick". I told him no, and with disbelief asked if he could "eat my pussy". He continued to say "are you fucking kidding me, you looked at me like you'd be into it". I didn't know this guy's name, and made brief eye contact by chance with him prior to him approaching me.

When I was 31, I was approached by a radio DJ who feigned interest in having me on his morning show, and showing me the ropes of getting into radio hosting or some other area of entertainment. He invited me out to a charity event and I met up with him and did the charity work. While we were there, he kept putting his hand on my back like we were there as a couple, and I kept slipping away out of discomfort in the situation. I went home and didn't hear from him. After that day, every single night for months, he would send me lewd text messages and dick pics, telling me how bad he wanted me. He would go back and forth between hitting on me and mentioning the career change I wanted, so eventually I responded one night and agreed to meet up. The next morning I listened to his show and discovered he was married.

This isn't everything. Not even close. But it's what I could remember with enough detail to include.

Since I was a teenager I have been sent THOUSANDS of unsolicited dick pics, been cat called even more than that, been followed home by strange men, stalked, and sexually harassed in nearly every single facet of my life. Not to mention the male "friends" I had who told me they had no interest in being friends when I wouldn't sleep with them or date them, depending on what they wanted.

I'm 35 now and have basically avoided most human contact to avoid this, and I still get harassed via social media, and on professional sites like LinkedIn.

This isn't just a games issue. It's not a tech issue. This is a culture problem.

Discussion (30)

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nickytonline profile image
Nick Taylor (he/him)

I have no words for everything that has happened to you.

I don’t know you, but I’m glad you spoke out here and continue to speak out on the Twitters.

And awkward switch to a different lighter topic, but I just wanted to say congratulations on the new job at Apple as a principal engineer. 👏

madza profile image

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” -W.Disney

Keep up, the DEV community stands behind you and support you! ❤

kayleestutts profile image
Kaylee Stutts

Cher, thank you for sharing.

I’m so sorry all of this has happened, and yet I can resonate having experienced similar abuse/harassment/assault. It’s difficult to put into words, almost like reliving the trauma, so I can’t thank you enough for being brave enough to share.

Until our bodies aren’t sexualized, commodified, capitalized on, until we undo this sickening normalization of fetishizing young girls’ bodies, this will continue to happen.

It’s not just tech, like you said. It happens in so many other aspects of our lives, the most upsetting being people who we once trusted or should have instead been our protectors. I don’t know how we begin to move forward, but I hope we see a culture shift in our lifetimes.

amdev83 profile image
Aaron L Marks

I believe you, Cher, and I am so sorry that you had to deal with all this.

tonycletus profile image
Tony Cletus

You're a conqueror Cher ❤️

leob profile image
leob • Edited

Just horrible, can't fathom why people behave like that, but they do - no empathy? selfishness? impunity? I don't know ... it's brave but above all necessary to share this because if these things aren't exposed then they will just continue, as the perpetrators will feel they can get away with it.

developerayo profile image
Shodipo Ayomide

Thank you so much Cher for sharing this 🙏

I'm so excited that things are way better now than before, this is really a tough thing for anyone to pass through, in fact, I would have said it was impossible before today.

I believe you are super incredible, and you fought your way through everything that happened, I am super glad I follow you,

Thank you so much for sharing this, I so much believe this would help more people than you even imagine out there going through something similar.

You are amazing 🔥

isaaczara_ profile image
Isaac Sixtus Chizaram ❁

Thanks for sharing this Cher❤️
I am just speechless 😞

puruvj profile image

My god! I'm so sorry all these things happened to you. No person should ever have to go through that much. Shit, you must be tough as a tank, after experiencing all that. I wouldn't have even survived after 17 if all these things had happened to me.

I know you don't really need to hear this(cuz of the thick skin), but keep going on. It will get better.

martinramirezboggio profile image

In the name of all good men, I'm so sorry.

Thank you for sharing this.

jasmin profile image
Jasmin Virdi

It is very brave to open up about your experience. You are a true fighter and inspiration to many females ❤️

davelsan profile image
David Velasco

We all need to hear this. Thank you for speaking out.

willwallaceii profile image
William Wallace

You have so much strength to have gone through so much and still be here today fighting the fight. No one deserves to have gone through what you have endured in your life.

temiloluwaade profile image
Temiloluwa Adelowo

So sorry all these happened to you.
Hope you get completely over this, now, and in the future.🙏🏽
More positive doors would open up to you.

The Tech Community loves you. ❤️

bashunaimiroy profile image
Bashu Naimi-Roy • Edited

Hello Temiloluwa! It may not be familiar to you, but in North American idiom, the phrase to "get over" something that happened usually has the implication "what happened was not a big deal"- which I don't think is quite appropriate here, and I'm sure you didn't mean. I thought you might want to know!

temiloluwaade profile image
Temiloluwa Adelowo

Thanks a lot for the enlightenment Bashu.
I'd always used the phrase wrongly then.
Any alternative which could be used instead?

Thread Thread
bashunaimiroy profile image
Bashu Naimi-Roy

Hi Temiloluwa, thank you for your response! I would suggest maybe "I hope you heal from this"?

"So sorry all these happened to you.
Hope you heal completely from this, now, and in the future.🙏🏽
I hope more positive doors will open up to you.

The Tech Community loves you. ❤️"

Be well

Thread Thread
temiloluwaade profile image
Temiloluwa Adelowo

Thanks a lot Bashu

damcosset profile image
Damien Cosset

Thank you for sharing Cher ❤️
This is a culture problem.

joannefraser profile image
JoanneFraser • Edited

Ohhh weeeeell.... what can i tell you, if it is all true, then it is just horrible! And i have to agree with the fact that this is a problem of culture, and it only gets worse because of people's addiction to porn and to sex in general. However, i am not saying that you are lying, or something like that, i just think that you exaggerated a couple of things in here. I mean, how could all these happen to a single person, so many times, again and again the same thing. In case that is true, i feel really sorry, and i really recommend you to call for They can help you in any kind of sextortion case.

ikegahruth profile image
Ruth Ikegah

Hey Cher! You are a super human. In all this you chose to exist!

gamorales profile image
Guillermo Alfonso Morales

I couldn't finish to read. 😭

Wish you the best miss Cher.

katnel20 profile image
Katie Nelson • Edited

This was so hard to read and now I just feel terrible for you.

undefinedopcode profile image

Thanks for sharing.

I'm sorry you had to endure this, and you are absolutely right, it is a culture problem.

godspowercuche profile image
Godspower Uche

I'm sorry you had to go through all these😪

artjomsimon profile image
Artjom Simon

Thank you for sharing this. It's insane how excruciating all of this must be.

vkoonline profile image
ishman profile image

at least here you can feel safe and heard. We will take care of you

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