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Journalist sexually assaulted on job ‘disheartened’ after speaking out

susie-beeverA regional daily journalist who spoke out about being sexually assaulted while working says she feels “disheartened” after being accused of fabricating the attack.

Susie Beever, left, breaking news reporter at the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, wrote a column detailing her experience of a man trying to rip open her shirt while she was conducting vox pops in the town.

The man also made “sleazy” and “vile” comments about Susie’s body while she was gathering tributes to a woman who had been found dead in the street.

However, when she went to report the assault to nearby police who were attending the scene, she says she was told there was nothing they could do.

Susie wrote the piece as part of the #MeToo campaign, which has seen women across the world detail their experiences of sexual harassment after multiple allegations were made against Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein.

But she has since been accused of fabricating the experience by readers commenting on her piece on Facebook, with one even attempting to justify their allegation with the claim that “journalists make stuff up all the time for a story”.

Susie told HTFP: “I was really disheartened to write this piece and still see comments from some suggesting I had invited the harassment, that it was nothing to whinge about, and that I was ‘probably lying’ because I am, and I quote, ‘a journalist that makes stuff up anyway’.

“All these comments only reinforced the point I was making – sexual harassment and assault is still not taken seriously. Reporters are often out and about and while the majority of people you meet are lovely, there is sadly the odd exception. No one has the right to make anyone feel unsafe when they are simply doing their job.”

In her piece, Susie described how the man had approached her with two friends while covering the job last year.

She wrote: “I was uncomfortable from the start. But dealing with difficult people is an unwanted yet inevitable aspect of journalism, so I carried on chatting and trying to bring the discussion back to the issue at hand.

“Instead this man kept pushing it, being sleazy and making vile comments about my body. Here I was, trying to collect tributes to a woman who had died in the most tragic of circumstances and have a serious conversation. I couldn’t believe the gall. And that’s when he grabbed my shirt and tried to rip it open.

“I immediately ran off and went to speak to police officers stood by the police tape at the scene, explaining what had happened. All I received in response was a shrug, and told there was nothing they could do. As I made my way back to the Examiner’s offices, I was cat-called several times. Although this tale will sound familiar to so many women, I recognise it pales in significance with other women’s experiences.

“In fact, I’ve put up with a lot worse from men on nights out myself. But this isn’t about me, or about whose story is worse. It’s about women everywhere having to put up with behaviour like this on a daily basis, no matter how grave or seemingly harmless.”

Susie concluded: “I shouldn’t have to be writing this column, but I am. Instead, I propose men speak out about other men harassing and assaulting women, rather than women sharing their own experiences after they’ve already happened.”

10 comments

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  • October 25, 2017 at 10:29 am
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    Another reason that online comments sections on news sites are the worst thing ever to happen to the internet.

    (He says, writing in a comments section).

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  • October 25, 2017 at 10:31 am
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    Susie might have expected that reaction from the trolls and cavemen of this world. They always crawl out of the woodwork at such times.
    It also raises the whole question of the security of women reporters, which used to worry me when I was running a newsroom.

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  • October 25, 2017 at 10:55 am
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    The sad fact is that trolls and cavemen know they can get away with sexist comments. If the police can’t be bothered to even go thru the motions of what would appear to have been an assault then they are hardly likely to race after the T&Cs who have nothing better to do than slag off a journo instead of slagging off the person who assaulted her.
    The T&Cs know they can hide smugly behind anonymity.

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  • October 25, 2017 at 11:49 am
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    A damning and depressing comment on society – way back in the 1980s I was troubled about the risks run by lone female journalists frequently sent into potentially dodgy situations yet openly derided at one editorial meeting when I expressed such concerns.

    To be honest I still can’t see much in the way of safety measures despite the admirable work of organisations such as the Suzy Lamplugh Trust….

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  • October 25, 2017 at 1:00 pm
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    This makes me so angry.

    I’m so sorry you had that reaction, Susie. I’m glad you spoke out – about the assault, and about the reaction and desperately sorry you were put in that position in the first place.

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  • October 25, 2017 at 3:13 pm
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    Back in the day , the presence of a big beefy photographer doing the shots for the vox pop might have discouraged the pond life. As for the useless ‘plod’ words fail me.

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  • October 25, 2017 at 5:10 pm
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    lensman. I once had the opposite experience. Young woman snapper running to car as foul-mouthed drunken drug addict with crazy dog tried to attack her and I backed away fending him off before scraping myself into car and getting the hell out of it. The only blessing is that reporters of any kind don’t seem to get out that much nowadays

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  • October 26, 2017 at 9:58 am
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    Paperboy. Glad you both got away to tell the tale. Public can be very unpredictable. Newsdesk need to assess risks before sending people out on their own. Court snatches , ‘travellers’ sites and late night town centres most likely to provide aggro in my experience.Always have an exit strategy.

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  • October 26, 2017 at 11:04 am
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    Lensman – how right you are. When I was working on the T&A in Bradford nearly 50 years ago a reporter (whether male or female) was always accompanied by a snapper – to ensure there were 2 of you esp in “dodgy” areas. At the risk of sounding sarcastic if you sent a reporter and snapper out together now most newsrooms would probably be empty.

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  • October 26, 2017 at 11:55 am
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    It will take a tragedy ( I hope that never happens) for some safeguards for women to be put into place. Despite their understandable desire for equality women are at a disadvantage physically when potentially serious situations arise.

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