Unpacking the moment a total stranger licked and kissed me on live TV
My story of the cringe-worthy TV moment that sparked a police probe
In the now-viral video of the altercation at Toronto's Comedy Bar Tuesday night, you see me at my most uncomfortable. I smiled and tried to soldier on with an awkward laugh. Make no mistake, though: I was not having any fun and didn't invite this touching.
Was I harassed? Was I assaulted? Was it sexual assault? These are all questions people have been asking — myself included.
At first, I was unsure whether I wanted to involve police. I wasn't physically injured; I just felt mortified and embarrassed. I don't know what crime label might ultimately be placed on this, if any at all. But I decided to go to police because I know this shouldn't happen to anyone else.
People online have applauded my professionalism and calm reaction. Many have said they may have taken a different, decidedly more violent approach if they were in my place.
You can't really know how you would react, or understand what it's like, until you're faced with it. It's difficult to express the confusion and awkwardness of knowing a live camera is rolling and not wanting to overreact to a scenario you're still trying to piece together as it's unfolding around you.
I love my job because I love meeting new people in the community and hearing their stories. But occasionally, when doing live hits on location, people will get too close for comfort.
I'm trained to do my best to roll with it, but it can be a vulnerable experience. I put my trust in the people around me, and in this case that trust was violated.
Why didn't anyone stop it?
Some people have remarked that someone should have stepped in. They've asked why the camera guy kept filming or why the control room didn't cut away. Despite excellent training and preparation for hostile environments, it's human nature to be stunned in unexpected and uncomfortable situations. I don't fault them.
I've heard from many people who were uncomfortable watching the video. I, too, have a visceral reaction when watching it. But it's important for people to see.
Unfortunately, this isn't the first time a journalist has been harassed on the job, and far too often it's my female colleagues who are targeted.
We deserve to be treated with respect while doing our job, just like transit operators, retail workers, nurses, politicians and all other professions who are routinely the targets of harassment on the job.
I want to acknowledge the support and kind messages I've received over the past two days from outraged social media users and fellow journalists, but also from concerned comedians.
I'm glad the man who attacked me apologized and took responsibility for his actions. I heard the shame in his voice when he spoke to CBC Toronto.
I hope this embarrassment serves as a lesson to others to think before they act. I know I was at a comedy event, and he thought at the time it was a joke, but nothing about this is funny.