Shahid Buttar Repeatedly Sexually Harassed Me
I have known Shahid Buttar for nearly 20 years. When I met Shahid in 2003 he lived in a communal home in DC which served as a hub for freelance opportunities in activism and the arts. I’d go there to network and see other artists despite the fact that Shahid consistently made me feel uncomfortable.
Shahid repeatedly pursued me for sex. In our earliest interactions, Shahid would dance up to me at social events, brush up against me in a sexual way and make comments about my body including weight gain or loss. I directly and clearly rejected his advances. I physically distanced myself from him at parties, turned down invitations, informed a friend I felt uncomfortable, avoided being alone with him, and eventually stopped going to the communal home until he moved out. Shahid let me know he was sexually available to me for years.
One specific incident happened at Shahid’s communal home. I had gone to the kitchen to get a drink when Shahid sneaked up behind me. He cornered me with his body and got so close and brushed up against my breasts. He blocked me in so I could not move away and gave me a weird smile that unnerved me. This was during the time that he was repeatedly harassing me for sex. Although he didn’t say anything to me, this interaction was meant to intimidate me. He eventually let me pass. I made it very clear I was not interested nor would I tolerate further advances and I left the house.
Another instance that is intimately embarrassing and traumatic for me to talk about happened about a decade later. After a Guerilla Poet Insurgency meeting/performance, a small group of us sat around at a table to catch up, including Shahid. One of my friends asked how long it had been since people had had sex. Others answered. I responded that I had been celibate for some years. Shahid’s response shocked and embarrassed me. “Oh my god, that is way too long! How can you go without sex that long? That’s insane! I couldn’t do it, you poor thing. It must be so hard.” I told him that my celibacy was a voluntary decision because it helped me cope with surviving sexual assaults, batteries and other misconduct. I felt degraded, nauseated, and revolted that he would mock me in front of friends who looked to me as an outspoken voice for women.
Later when the group walked back to the communal house where Shahid used to live, he said “I still can’t believe you aren’t getting it.” Shahid turned to the woman that he was with and said. “Can you believe Liz has been celibate that long, honey? Oh my god what is wrong with you? Don’t worry Liz, we’ll find someone to fuck you. Someone will do it. Someone has to FUCK you, Liz. I’d do it but I’m taken.” I turned around to see Shahid smiling spitefully as he had done years ago in his kitchen as if to taunt me for rejecting him years before. I repeated that celibacy was my choice and asked him to let it go. Once we got to the house, Shahid again started telling people that I hadn’t “been fucked” in a long time and asked other men if they wanted to have sex with me saying that he had to recruit someone to do it. I reminded him I was a survivor of several sexual assaults and batteries. While ridiculing me was being framed as “humorous” it never had a humorous tone. I did my best to hold my composure but the truth is, my PTSD had been triggered. The more he taunted me, the more painful and vivid memories of the sexual assaults flooded my mind. I remember crying all night until my eyes were swollen because of the contempt and degradation I was shown in front of other women.
Based on my personal experiences and many others not detailed, Shahid Buttar is not trustworthy or deserving of holding elected office. I’m compelled to share my history about Shahid as he may have harassed other women and may continue this behavior as a Congressman if elected. Like many survivors, I’ve felt terrified for my safety because speaking out against powerful men is dangerous. By coming forward I hope to show others they can do the same. I remain in constant solidarity with survivors of all genders and holding abusers accountable for their actions. This only makes our community and movement stronger.
We on the left must hold ourselves to a higher standard as we are committed to creating a just and equitable world, free from sexual misconduct, misogyny and bullying. After much contemplation, I made the decision to come forward about my experiences with Shahid because I cannot accept the rape culture which permeates every political ideology including the left. Men who consider themselves progressive or radical need to take responsibility for the sexual misconduct and misogyny within our communities. We CAN find the strength and courage to put candidates forward of the highest quality and trustworthy substance. If we as a movement will not stand with the most vulnerable in our society, we are not who we claim we are. I hope that by coming forward, progressives across America will think twice before investing their time, donations, and trust in a candidate that has a long history of sexual harassment.
The left can do better than Shahid Buttar.