Taylor Swift’s allegation that a former morning radio host reached under her skirt and grabbed her backside during a photo op is bringing attention to a common but largely hidden outrage for many women, one that few report.
A 2014 survey found nearly 1 in 4 women in the United States had been groped or brushed up against in a public place by a stranger at least once.
But many never talked about it, let alone went to the police. A 2015 survey of more than 16,000 people globally found more than half of the respondents outside the U.S. had been fondled or groped.
The then-girlfriend of former DJ David Mueller, who was standing with Mueller and Swift when the singer says he groped her, even testified that a co-worker had grabbed her backside at another concert.
Mueller denies groping Swift and sued the singer, saying he was fired because of her false allegation.
Late Friday, just as closing arguments were set to begin, the judge threw out Mueller’s claims against Swift — saying after he’d heard all of the evidence that Mueller could not prove Swift had anything to do with his losing his job. U.S. District Judge William Martinez also said there was no indication that Swift had made up her story.
Even before that ruling, women around the world, not all of them fans of Swift’s music, had been cheering the pop superstar for confronting the issue in federal court and keeping an unflinching attitude on the witness stand.
On social media, some are using a teal ribbon that represents opposition to sexual violence and praising Swift as an example for other women.
Paige Brasington, 21, a Swift fan from The Woodlands, Texas, said she was groped on public transportation while studying abroad and was glad Swift was giving attention to the issue with the same honesty she brings to her music.
The University of Georgia student was stunned the first time it happened to her on a crowded tram in Budapest, thinking there must have been an object pressed against her. After she reached down, she found a man’s hand on her butt. He exited at the next stop. When she told a male friend, he asked if she had enjoyed it.
“The most important thing about this trial is it gets people talking about this issue,” Brasington said. “It forces them to confront that it is wrong and should never happen.”
Holly Kearl, founder and director of Stop Street Harassment, which commissioned the 2014 U.S. survey, said women who speak out face not being believed or being blamed for groping,…