I'm a solicitor and I've always loved being a lawyer.
I've also experienced every type of sexual harassment and discrimination there is, until I'd become so desensitised to it that I thought it was normal to get so drunk in hotel bars you ended up in bed with whoever had taken you out on expenses. The weight of the shame I carried still haunts me now and I always thought if I just work a bit harder and longer people will forget the gossip or look past the fact I was perceived as a hot mess.
I was raped when I was a trainee by a QC who forced oral sex on me in my kitchen. I couldn't say anything because I would have woken my housemates and I was so embarrassed. I never told anyone, although it was common knowledge this man fancied me and would try to get me on my own or insist on sharing cabs with me. No one seemed to try to stop that by pairing up with me or giving me money for black cabs after a boozy work night out which I couldn't afford.
I ended up so confused that this man became my mentor, and again I felt so guilty that I was seen with him as if everything was fine, but I couldn't admit what he'd done to me at that point.
I've experienced or seen harassment at every law firm I've worked at. In one instance, I was asked to sign an NDA at one medium city firm after being made redundant. I had been kissed on the lips at that firm by a male partner. It was an entirely uninvited assault, which was witnessed by. other more junior lawyers, and once again I felt embarrassed and humiliated. The NDA clause was presented as part of standard settlement terms, but I was offered slightly more money because of what I had experienced. I did not think that asking to refer the gagging cause was something that I could consider.
When I first heard about the me too, movement my internalized misogynistic reaction was "grow up" and "worse things happen to others." I only realized afterwards that my response was fueled by what had happened to me.
I've moved on and I now work as an in-house lawyer, but I still experience trauma, PTSD and considerable regret over a life half-lived in my late twenties and early thirties in a cycle of over-work, client entertainment and numbing with free booze (which felt like the only perk of the job).