Image from Unsplash
I don’t remember the first that I was sexually harassed; however, I do know that it has happened more times than I would’ve liked it to happen. In my early twenties, I had a boss who would ask me out on dates and make comments about how ‘beautiful’ he thought that I was. It made me uncomfortable but I, like many other people who are victims of such behaviour, decided to keep quiet out of fear that I might lose my job.
Recently, I left a yoga studio that I taught at because I was being sexually harassed. It brought back a lot of memories of how this has happened before and, most of the time, I was the only one who stuck up for what was right. Me leaving was a choice that I made so that I could have a clear mind, peace and not feel like a victim in my daily life anymore.
Like always, I don’t regret anything but if I could’ve told myself a few things about sexual harassment. It would be this:
1. Most people won’t believe you because of their own issues.
I have definitely had my fair share of unwanted male attention. Whenever I have voiced the level of discomfort that this unwanted attention brings, I have been met with ‘he’s just a man’, ‘he doesn’t mean any harm’ or, ‘at least he shows some interest in you’. All of these sayings nauseate me to my core because if I were interested, I wouldn’t be complaining about it. Unfortunately, a lot of people’s minds are trapped in the past. They would rather have the innovator or change-maker shut up than make the changes needed for us to progress as a society. These people are stuck and will probably stay stuck. Don’t look to them for compassion or kindness during this tough time, look within or amongst people who genuinely care about you and your wellbeing.
2. Don’t be surprised when people try to tell you to keep quiet.
At my recent job, I let management know and, before you know it, the tables were turned on me. All of a sudden the personality of a harasser was downplayed to misunderstandings and me wearing little while I teach. In a nutshell, the typical story of a man harassing a woman, the woman speaking up for herself which is met with deep resistance. Before you know it, my classes halved and management wouldn’t even speak to me anymore. They were enforcing a system to keep me quiet. However, to me, my voice is more important than a paycheck. Thankfully, I teach for other studios that are supportive, kind and do not make it someone’s fault for receiving unwanted attention.
3. Your voice matters.
In my early twenties, I didn’t really believe that my voice mattered as much as I do now. It is important to speak up for your morality however way you feel comfortable. If we do not feel comfortable with something or someone, it is important to say something. Sure, you might be sparing yourself. However, you might be sparing others of dealing with this person too. Don’t wait for someone else to speak up because, at that point, 50 people being harassed might
4. It might be hard but do it anyways.
The hardest part of standing my ground is that some people who I had called, ‘friends’, didn’t believe me. Their lack of compassion, kindness and understanding upset me to begin with but then I saw this as a friendship test. We can all be friends when we’re having fun and enjoying good times but, what about when you have to acknowledge that your friend might’ve gone through something harder than you wished upon them? Will you believe them and listen to them? Or, will you judge them and say that they wished this upon themselves?
You might be shown that some people project their own insecurities and lack of ability to stand up for themselves onto you. Let them figure out their journey. And, while they do, progress on your journey of justice and what you believe is best because your life is in your hands; not people who want to bring you down and keep you in their mediocre level.