A Facebook post has gone viral this week for its chilling story: Stephanie Soong described on Tuesday the details of an alleged attack she suffered in her home from an IKEA delivery person.
The post is about Soong being sexually assaulted after receiving a truckload of new furniture at her new apartment in Amsterdam, where she had recently moved from her native San Francisco. It has gathered over 3,000 shares and 800 comments.
“TRIGGER WARNING,” the post began ominously, before going on to explain that she had recently found an apartment and gone to IKEA to buy new furnishings within two days of her arrival. “On the third day,” she continued, “things immediately spiraled downhill.”
Soong said that her furniture was delivered by four men, ready to set up her items. When she pointed out that several purchased items were missing, the men promised to be back later that day. So she was surprised to have two return within 20 minutes — one downstairs asking to come up, and the other remaining in the truck. Once the man, who she calls D, was inside her apartment, he yelled out the window signaling the driver to leave. That’s when the alleged attack began.
“D walked up very close to my face and proceeded to squeeze-massage my left bicep, moving up and down, then my right one, then moved down to my thigh, slowly moving upward to my upper thigh towards my butt; all while saying, ‘You have such a nice body. Your body SO nice.’ After he finished, he asked me for my phone number to go on a date,” she writes. “Then he asked me if I wanted a massage. And after many refusals and ‘NOs!,’ he asked if he could give me a special massage, then stuck his tongue out, flickered it up and down multiple times, all while looking at my vagina.”
“After kicking him out, I curled up in a ball on the apartment floor and started crying,” she wrote.
Soong wrote that she reported the incident to Dutch police and has been in contact with IKEA “to make sure that this NEVER happens again to another woman.” But, she added, IKEA has not responded to her.
An IKEA representative, Latisha Bracy, told Yahoo Lifestyle that the company is fully aware of the incident, noting, “Such an experience is completely contrary to everything IKEA stands for. In the strongest manner, we condemn every kind of discrimination, sexual or other harassment and hostility.”
Bracy also said that a police investigation did not lead to sufficient enough evidence to justify prosecution and added that IKEA has not cut ties with the service partner that provided Soong with delivery.
Soong’s post says that she is now in a state of constant fear because her aggressor knows where she lives, and he knows that she lives alone. She notes, “I am in full support of the #MeToo movement, but with this recent experience, this is just a reminder that women have a LONG way to go.”
For Soong and for many others, self-defense expert Jennifer Cassetta shares some advice regarding safety measures.
“When letting anyone into your home, keep your phone in your hand or in your pocket in case you need it to call the police,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Immediately assert yourself with powerful communication: strong body language, strong deep tones to communicate boundaries, ‘Leave now,’ ‘Get out’ and ‘I’m calling the police,’” she says. “You can lie and say, ‘My husband/boyfriend/friend is on his/her way here right now,’ or anything to scare the perpetrator into thinking he will get caught.”
Cassetta advises using boundaries wisely. For example, if you feel like you are being threatened, first try and get out of the house and go to the closest, most public place, such as a store or your neighbor’s home or apartment, rather than using a boundary like a door to lock yourself into a room. But if that’s the only option, then do so, call the police, and wait in the locked room.
Also, she advises, be aware of the everyday household items that can be used as weapons: coffee mugs, letter openers, keys, and actual weapons like pepper spray and personal alarms.
Still, Casetta says, no matter how much you prepare, a home intrusion can be extremely frightening, and the fear can be paralyzing. “It’s possible to change that state by changing your physiology,” she explains. “It’s the same idea as Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk on Power Posing. Getting into a powerful body position can help trick your brain into feeling more confident. Using strong language can do the same.“
Although Soong wrote that although she’s been disappointed with IKEA’s handling of the situation , she’s been overwhelmed by the public support she’s received, and hopes that by sharing her story she is helping other sexual attack survivors.
“[I want to] empower others to speak up no matter the type of harassment they have experienced. It’s never right! And there should be a zero-tolerance policy for this across the board,” she wrote. “Sexuall misconduct has a lot of gray areas compared to, let’s say, violent rape. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be addressed, just because it’s not ‘against the law.’”
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