Atheist activist Ashley Paramore published a video on Monday that described how she was sexually assaulted at a skeptics conference.
Paramore told Raw Story via email that the response to the video had been “mostly overwhelmingly positive.”
“I was really worried about what the response would be beforehand,” she said. “I know other women that I know that have talked about similar issues have been attacked. In the comments, on Twitter, by phone — people have been going out of their way to be supportive and even share their stories. I’m glad that I finally talked about it.”
There has been some backlash, but not much.
“Only random people online questioning if it actually happened, if I had an agenda, and so on. You can see it in the YouTube comments. This video wasn’t for those people though.”
Paramore explained in the video that she was speaking out to highlight the fact that women are often harassed at large conferences and encourage other women to report sexual assault.
The incident occurred at a suite party during the James Randi Educational Foundation’s annual The Amaz!ng Meeting last year. Paramore said that a former friend — who she referred to only as “Jim Bob” — was chatting with her when he got “touchy” and eventually put his hand up her skirt. Paramore repeatedly moved away to prevent “Jim Bob” from grabbing her buttocks.
Later when Paramore was sitting on a bed, “Jim Bob” unexpectedly pushed her down and again put his hand up her skirt. She repeatedly told him to stop and he complied. “Jim Bob” asked if Paramore wanted to come back to his room, an offer which was declined, and then insisted he act like a “gentleman” by escorting her back to her hotel room.
Paramore agreed to let “Jim Bob” walk her back to her room, but she quickly realized this was an accident. She managed to ditch “Jim Bob” when he wasn’t looking.
“Jim Bob touched the no-no spots on the doll,” Paramore explained. “I said no both verbally and non-verbally throughout this process, and he still tried to actively pursue me and get me to a place where we would be alone. Not cool, bro.”
Paramore reported the incident to the James Randi Educational Foundation, which she said handled the situation well. Hotel security, on the other hand, advised her to drink less alcohol to prevent being assaulted.
The video was first reported by The Friendly Atheist blog.