A Message To Sexual Harassment Victims

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In today’s world, the headlines on the news are something that we as a society have become accustomed to. All the tragedies, all the heartbreaks, all the tears are just another tally to mark next to the never-ending list of horrors that this world faces. Sexual harassment seems to be almost the very top of all the things in this world we’ve become desensitized to. From social media to the numerous headlines gracing the news, all stories of sexual harassment have not gone unnoticed. However, people would hear about the uncomfortable people telling their horrible stories varying from groping to catcalling and besides feeling sorry for them do nothing about it. Now, why is that? For so long these cases have been going on, varying from young girls to old girls to young boys and older boys even. But no matter the gender, facing sexual harassment is not only a struggle but something that can leave a lasting scar on the person you were meant to be. Especially for those who are late teenage girls like myself trying to succeed in trying times like these. This can be almost impossibly difficult and has taught many girls and me many different things. Because of other people’s actions and remarks we have been lead to believe that being constantly on your guard and avoid situations like those is the only way to ensure some percentage of safety in our lives. We have been told and we have believed that this will solve this solution. Everyone has a different story when it comes to sexual harassment.   

For me, it took a long while of trying before I finally realized the truth behind this unrealistic thinking. When walking home both hands would constantly rest inside their pockets, one gripping a cell phone and the other gripping a set of keys to use as a makeshift pocket knife if need be. My mind over and over again would remind not to show any emotion when walking. Any hint of smile or emotion could be seen as an invitation to certain men. I would walk briskly and keep my eyes eyes straight but constantly scan my surroundings. If it’s dark outside walk where the lampposts shine the brightest and keep away from alleys or too dark driveways. Be alert about what I was wearing and any wardrobe malfunctions. If someone makes an advance say no, or better yet say nothing.

These were the rules that I and others had made for ourselves. All of this and I’ve still been catcalled more times than my age, leered at as if I were their’s and not the teenage girl I was, and seen sexual gestures made in my direction. I’ve witnessed boys and men alike call me words that I did not deserve nor wanted all because I did not react the way they wanted to their advances. No matter how hard I tried, I still faced these scarring situations and more. While wasting so much precious time I finally realized the truth: none of this was ever, and will never be my fault. There is nothing that I will do or say that will make what I have gone through reasonable. So many girls in today’s world have been taught to trade the way we carry ourselves for an uncertain place of safety from these certain individuals. As time goes on we must not forget that who were are is not something we must change. Whether it happened only once or multiple times you have every right to feel the way you feel.

The most important thing, however, is to remind yourself that you are not to blame, and you should never feel negative feelings towards yourself because of another's actions. Remember that your smile is something good and pure. Know that your politeness is not an invitation for others to make advances. It is showing respect and common courtesy; the least these people can do is show the same. You are not to blame for others’ actions. The way you carry yourself is not the issue at hand. Although it may take more time for things to change know that staying strong and remembering to help others who have gone through the same is a step on the right path. Remember that you have the power to not let these individuals win and break your spirit. Stay strong because you have every right to fight back and make the difference we need to end sexual harassment for people of all ages, genders, religions, and races once and for all. Your voice, your story matters and it deserves to be heard.