Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Sexual Harassment - I Have More To Say!

Hey guys,

I would like to first of all thank everyone for the overwhelming amount of positive responses I have been receiving on my last blog post about Sexual Harassment and my story.  I didn't expect for the story to be read, shared and spread as much as it did but it was intended for the purpose of awareness, so I am glad it did. I appreciate the way my post is being used to get the community into the positive direction toward the issues around sexual harassment and assault. I do however have a request to you all which is to please get to the bottom of this blog post and to take the things I am saying into consideration the next time you hear about assault.
Ever since my story was published which was only two days ago, I have been receiving positive feedback, but it also made me realise why our community and society is not progressing regarding this issue and why these criminals are getting away with it - repeatedly. 

Victim shaming. 

It begins with us as a society. Over the days I have been acknowledged for my bravery and confidence but none of that means anything to me if the lack of knowledge on the issue results in comments that take the community two steps back. 
"Why are victims coming out now years after assault, why not act on it straightaway?"
"Why are these girls trying to create awareness now?" 
"Why are they not naming and shaming the perpetrators?" 
"It's the girls' duty for the greater good and safety of other girls to name and report these men."
"If they didn't get raped and it's only a touch then they're lucky, why is it a huge deal."

For a woman to make the decision to come and share her story is a big thing. Everyone did not fail to realise that because everyone did call me brave and my bravery was acknowledged but the word "brave" is just being thrown around. Do you actually realise why it is a brave move? 
When a woman gets sexually harassed/assaulted, that moment onward her life has been changed. It does not matter at which age it happens. You are forever left with the memory of what had happened and how it made you feel. It never leaves you and some moments in life may bring back those days and act as triggers. So yes, processing it takes days, months or even years so please society - do not shame the victim for coming out about them years after! Dear women, your story is never too late to be told! You are carrying the effects of it with you for years, so let the world hear what you are having to bear on your mind! 

 We all have an idea of how we would act in a moment like that and tell ourselves that we will be strong, brave and speak up. Did you not all call me strong and brave? Yet did I not lose my voice both times I was sexually harassed? Trust me, I wanted to scream at the cyclist who assaulted me and scream at my instructor who harassed me. If you know me, you know that I am not likely to hold back but in that moment the fear, the shock - took my voice! So, for one, please don't advise a victim on how they should've acted in the moment. 
Next up, is expectations. Yes, reporting the person who assaulted you is important and will help many other women but do not put that pressure on the person who just decided to come forward with their story to you. I am not only talking about myself here, but it is the remaining girls I am worried about. It is a matter of comfort and trauma. Not only are women the victims, now society has expectations as to what these victims should be doing as well? It's like telling a person who got hit by a car to go look for the driver and teach them how to drive. It is not the victims’ responsibility! 
Yes, if the courage is there and you're ready to do so, I am all for it but please do not pressure a person into it, they went through multiple things as it is.  They know that the right thing to do is to report but there is reasons as to why they haven't done so yet. Give them their space and time. The decision is to be made by the victim.

Some of the questions I have been receiving made me realise why woman don't speak up, because you trying to help is you actually achieving the opposite and is stopping other women from speaking up. Stop normalising sexual harassment and assault! "so many girls get touched up" "rape happens a lot" "many men are like this, it has been happening for years it is not going to stop now". This mentality is what is taking us all back! Just because Hitler had many Germans behind him killing Jewish people - was it right? Was it normal? Did the world not stop him? Did change not come about? 
If you make such comment around another woman who was about to speak up, you have just stopped her from doing so. Congratulations. You don’t know who around you are suffering and who isn’t telling a story. Your sister, cousin, mum. Believe it or not, almost every female I am friends with has admitted to a story of harassment and assault to me, including rape. I was told because they felt comfortable telling me and some came forward once they realised they were not alone. So please, before you speak and make a comment about another female to a female - think!

I wanted to break this down to you one by one. As someone who has gone through it, I have come to realise that if it had never happened to you before, you will fail to understand what victims of sexual assault and harassment go through. I never wish for anyone to go through it but educating everyone on the issue is the only possible way I see this problem in the community being dealt with. 

Every person that has made any remarks questioning a victims' story is guilty of taking the community two steps back. If this is you and you may be making these remarks without realising the severity and impact you are having, please for the sake of us victims, the least you can do is not say anything at all instead of demolishing the hard work that has been put into this all in one go. Stop questioning the victim, they are not who have to be dealt with. 
The feedback I have been receiving about my last post was all positive and I greatly appreciate that but I have written this to make sure that everyone understands it the perspective of the girls that go through it.
As interesting and scandalous the last post was, this post has a greater importance to me. I know it is shocking to read a story like that and you wanted your friends and family to know about it which is why it was shared so rapidly but knowing my story is only one step. My story has been heard for which I am grateful but to make this awareness go further I would like the community to make this change so please do share this post for me with as many people as possible and let the voices of the women going through sexual assault be heard. Let more of them come out and for that to happen the society and community needs to take the aforementioned points into consideration.
“If there is going to be change, real change, it will have to work its way from the bottom up, from the people themselves. That’s how change happens.” – Howard Zinn


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