I went back and forth a lot about writing this post, but seeing the more and more people speaking out about harassment and assault has made me see that speaking out, being strong and voicing that is it not ok, should not be tolerated and needs to be addressed is so important.
I have experienced sexual assault, and experience on an almost daily basis unwanted attention from strangers, colleagues or even people that I would regard as friends. Primarily men will make suggestive comments that make me feel at the least very uncomfortable, and sometimes even scared.
This morning, whilst watching yet more allegations and charges of sexual assault on the news, I have had a surge of feeling that it is totally not OK for anyone to make anyone else feel like this. I have made so many excuses over the years for people – ‘I’m sure they didn’t mean to cause offence.’ ‘They’re lonely and I don’t want to make them feel worse.’ ‘Maybe I’m overreacting.’ – but why is it OK for me to feel anxious, uncomfortable and vulnerable? For years I have lived with the frustration of my being friendly often being misconstrued as something more, which leads to unwelcome comments and attention. I don’t want to have to become rude and antisocial to avoid this, but I am also not OK with this being the norm. And I am no longer going to make excuses for other people’s behaviour.
I am finally going to start speaking out when people make these comments and advances. I am sure some of the men in question would be horrified that this is how they are making me feel (or at least I would hope they would have some remorse and change their actions). But challenging this behaviour and speaking out seems like the only way to change it.
For anyone else who has experienced this (which sadly I think is every female on this planet at some point in their lives) I hope this post gives you some comfort that you are not alone, but also reminds you that it is not OK for anyone to make you feel uncomfortable, scared or violated.