5 Things to Remember When Faced with Sexual Harassment

An online survey from 2018 revealed that 81 percent of women have, at one point or another, been the victim of sexual harassment/assault. There have only been a few instances for me personally that have never gone further than a catcall or car honks, but to call myself one of the “lucky ones” is still jarring. It was only this year that I discovered October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month, which was telling enough that more voices need to speak up and be heard, rather than cut off. While several women, including myself, have endured their experiences and suffered the trauma, even more, frightening are those who undergo these occurrences each day in a place that is supposed to feel safe and with somebody whom they are supposed to put their trust in. It seems that some of the hardest things to come by as a consequence of any experience dealing with sexual harassment are reassurances that we were not in the wrong. To any person who has suffered abuse, violence, assault, or who fears every day they might, here are a few reminders to always carry with you:

 

woman sitting alone looking out window Photo by Anthony Tran from Unsplash

1.    It is OKAY to be paranoid!

I encourage feeling doubtful about your surroundings. While it is not pleasant to keep your eyes open and head-turning every direction walking somewhere, it offers you comfort which is all that should matter. If you are like me and clutch your keys in your hand with the possibility of using them as a potential weapon in the back of your mind, good. Clutch them tighter. If you fake a call walking past a threat of some sort, I beckon you to speak louder. This is proof of the evolutionary techniques we have built and prided ourselves on. Use them whenever necessary and do not feel foolish for doing so. 

 

2.    It is definitely NOT what you wore!

Most people still seem to lack the common knowledge that women do not dream of impressing every person they run into on the street when getting dressed. We especially do not put on clothes that make ourselves comfortable with the goal of gaining crude comments from strangers who do not know where to stare and when top stop. It’s different when my friends compliment my jean shorts or crop top rather than a man demanding me to walk over so he can “get a closer look.” There is a difference between a hype man and a predator, especially in the way they throw compliments. That is a distinction everybody should educate themselves on. 

Girl with closed eyes and praying hands Photo by Ben White from Unsplash

3.    If they make you frown, turn them down!

Confrontation in any form makes guilt start to gnaw away at my insides. But another thing we must concentrate on and improve is our assertiveness. Whenever I was cat-called running down Times Square in a knee-length dress and a man hooted at me like it was lingerie there were so many replies in my head that my mouth refused to form. None of them were "thank you" but all of them were things I always regret never allowing myself to say. If you find yourself in a similar situation where you are becoming victimized, don’t be afraid to use this next tip:

 

 

4.    Bite back

Because really, they started it. It sounds like a childish excuse but if a man nearby was not afraid to speak his mind, it begs the question: what other things is he capable of doing? Some might not find the boldness to respond to what some say to them or about them is yet another reason men keep taking the opportunity to continue. A video went viral of a woman walking for ten hours on the street and replying to those who whistled or spoke something inappropriate to her. Some might think this only fuels the fire, but the reactions the woman received after responding were priceless. If you ever need a firm rebuttal for somebody who cannot take a hint, I recommend taking notes on this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35KqGNa1FGA

 

clipart of a Zoom call Photo by mmi9 on Pixabay

5.    Have resources on hand

Finally, if you find yourself in a position of domestic abuse, or sexual assault/harassment of any kind, here are a few resources to help you. Remember that this is not a battle we are obligated to fight alone. The more who are willing to speak up about their experiences can only aid this ongoing fight for justice. 

National Domestic Violence Hotline

National Sexual Assault Hotline

National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline

StrongHearts Native Helpline (for Native Americans experiencing domestic violence and dating violence)

Womens Law (provides support, referrals, and any legal information to women who have victims of abuse)