I refuse to be another girl crushed by silence.
Consent: When someone agrees, gives permission, or says "yes" to sexual activity with another person. Consent is ALWAYS freely given, never forced. Every person involved in a sexual situation must feel that they are able to say "yes," "no" or be able to stop the sexual activity at any point in time.
Imagine being at a concert, enjoying yourself in nothing less than jeans and a hoodie when a random man you don't know comes up from behind you, places his hands on your hips and begins grinding himself into you. Thrusting and continuously pulling you closer to him. I was traumatized. The crowd around me was moving, but I was frozen. I opened my mouth but my voice was gone. I felt his breath reaching for my neck. My mind went into panic mode. I am not his property, why does he think it's okay to touch me like this? I aggressively raised my shoulder causing me to hit him in the jaw. He let go of my waist right away.
The man disappeared into the crowd, I never saw him again but what I remember of his face plays over and over inside of my head. I know I am not the only woman who has experienced sexual assault. I thought about keeping this to myself but I refuse to be another girl crushed by silence.
It's sickening how many people are taken advantage of daily by both men and women. If we want to be specific, every minute at least one person is a victim of sexual assault, every four minutes, that victim is a child.
It's apart of our lives now, whether we are walking down the street, hearing degrading utters like "hey sexy" or creeps forcing you to smile for them, these sick people may block your path in hopes that you will interact with them.
Worst of all, things could rapidly progress to hands reaching for inappropriate places on your body, physical abuse or suffering the extreme - rape.
I have not only been assaulted by a man; I have also been sexually harassed multiple times. I remember walking home from school with my best friend and having an elderly man reveal his penis to us in broad daylight, as 16-year-olds, we ran home freaking out to our parents and reported it immediately to the authorities.
I have been sexually harassed online by a 22-year-old man who repetitively blackmailed me by saying "if you want me to go away, you have to send me nude photos of yourself."
On a daily basis, I am sent unwanted nude photos from men on apps like Snapchat and Instagram in order to capture my attention. Growing up, my mom always taught me that this behaviour from men was unacceptable. She always kept me under her wing and constantly reminded me to never trust a stranger.
When I was younger, I remember her taking me to the park down the street from our house and us immediately coming back home to report that a man sitting on a swing had his genitals out and a child sitting on his lap making her do things to him. Disgusting, right? This is a reality of our lifetime, wrongful acts like this are happening every. single. day.
Why don't we hear about sexual violations more in the media?
Men and women are silenced and afraid to come out about their experience with sexual abuse whether it be from: shame, denial, fear of the consequences, low self-esteem, feeling helpless, being drugged at the time of the assault, or a history of being sexually violated.
There are no grey areas when it comes to sexual violence, it is never okay. Victims go on to experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which includes uncontrollable thoughts, bad anxiety, nightmares and flashbacks. They feel prolonged sadness and feel hopeless. They lose energy and interest in things they once loved. Some may even have suicidal thoughts or have attempted suicide.
My Advice To You..
- Your safety is important, stay in areas with lots of people if you are alone. If you are assaulted, don't change anything on your body (e.g. don't shower or change your clothes)- the more evidence you have, the better it is if you decide to report it to the police. Tell someone you trust.
- Get a medical exam, go to the emergency room or a local planned parenthood center, they're usually trained for sexual attacks and will examine you for any physical harm, they can provide you with an emergency contraceptive if there is a risk of pregnancy, they can test you for any sexually transmitted infections, they may provide you with post-exposure prophylactics to prevent HIV and they can collect evidence, such as semen, hair or skin cells from the person who assaulted you to press charges against the offender.
- Getting professional help from a therapist or counsellor is also recommended. It is not okay if your boss, your teacher, a family member, a friend or even someone you're dating unwillingly touches you. If you do not consent, it is sexual abuse.
- The abusers will manipulate you and make it seem like you'll be in big trouble if you don't go along with what they want...ESCAPE AND GET HELP FROM SOMEONE YOU TRUST IMMEDIATELY. Sexual abuse can happen to anybody, young or old, male or female.
- If someone you love and care about is assaulted then listen to their story, believe them and tell them it wasn't their fault that this happened. Do your research on local rape crisis services, encourage them to talk to an adult if they haven't done so already and offer to go with them for help.
- Never ever tell them how they could have avoided the situation or reveal their experience to anyone else without their permission including law enforcement. Do not threaten to harm the person who put them through this. Sexual assault, rape, and other sexually violent acts take time. It may take days, months or years to heal. Be patient and be supportive.
There is so much we can do to end sexual assault.
- If you see somebody drugging another person's drink or using alcohol with the intention of having any sort of intercourse then say something, dispose of the drink, tell the target or report it to the police.
- If you overhear someone talking about "getting some," say something. Speak what's on your mind, let them know you're not okay with it, don't tolerate these degrading and hurtful human beings with nasty intentions, even if they happen to be someone you consider a friend.
These assaults are becoming so common in our society, both in real life and online. It's important that we come together as one to take action and fight against our offenders.
We were given a voice for a reason.
Victims of sexual violence deserve our recognition and compassion for how difficult it is to have gone through such a horrific experience. Men and women need to learn how to give the shame back to the abusers instead of living with the self-blame of "maybe I shouldn't have dressed like that," "I should have said no," "I should have fought back," "I should have reported it right after it happened."
There's no excuse, the monster is to blame- not the victim. How can you justify alcohol making her more available? How does a mini-skirt make her more vulnerable? Their clothes, their freedom, their choice. No reason can justify a crime so unbelievably low. If a finger is to be pointed, point it at the offender.
I stand with survivors because I wouldn't want to stand alone either. I am a victim of sexual assault. I am sorry if you have ever been objectified or dehumanized, raped or assaulted, harassed or abused in any way at all, you didn't deserve this... I believe you and I am here for you.
You are not to blame.
You are never alone.
Help is always available.
And that most importantly, "NO MEANS NO!"
If you need any help please contact:
NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE: 1-800-273-8255
NATIONAL SEXUAL ASSAULT HOTLINE: 1-800-656-4673
The Writer Behind the Writing
Samantha Villemaire is a law enforcement student at St.Clair College in Windsor, Ontario. Her passion for writing has grown significantly in the past year as she finds herself writing about common issues in society and marine life. She has published work with Vocal Media, The Swamp Media, VIVA media, and Humans Media. Read more from her on her blog and click the button below to follow her on Instagram.