I have always been nervous to share my experience and opinion on this topic for many reasons. One of such reasons is the assumption that I just don’t have enough to contribute. But as a woman, I am realizing that I have a voice and my voice matters. My contribution matters no matter how small or irrelevant I think it is. As many of you know me, I try not to go too personal with my posts but I will share what’s personally relevant in this case.
As a woman who has experienced sexual harassment on many occasions, I can tell you that it is uncomfortable and humiliating, to say the least. It is shockingly something that many women have had to deal with from childhood and into adulthood. For many of us, it never ends.
My first experience with sexual harassment dates back to my childhood. I remember our Carpenter then tried to grab my breasts. He barely touched them as I was pretty small and fast. I was able to sneak away from his grasps pretty quickly. It shocked me that someone my family trusted would do that.
I spent the entire afternoon replaying what had just happened. Eventually, I shrugged it off and wished to never experience such a thing. In retrospect, that was not the first incident. It’s always been a horror going to markets in Nigeria where I grew up. The incidents in the markets would account for the first numerous harassments I experienced.
Many women who live and grew up in Nigeria can testify to the horror of being grabbed by men as you walk past stalls in markets. Since the markets are usually overly populated it’s hard to even know which man touched you. EW! These men grab women and girls with so much confidence you’d think it’s a behavior that should be applauded. Still, women rarely speak up against this behavior. It’s so normal now. It’s part of our market experience. I haven’t been to a Nigerian market in a while so it’s hard to say if this is still a thing- I would hope not.
Since my first harassment, I have experienced much more as an adult. My most shocking experience happened about 4 years ago when a man tried to caress my thighs in public transport. I was traveling by road in Nigeria with my boyfriend at the time. While I slept, I sensed someone touching my thighs. I knew that couldn’t be my boyfriend so I opened my eyes. When I turned to the guy to my right, he smirked. It was shocking. I was wearing a maxi skirt, nothing seductive at all so no one can say I seduced him. (Which is ridiculous btw)
I had my boyfriend switch seats with me. My bf asked what the problem was but I just shrugged it off and told him I was just uncomfortable. When we got to our destination and alighted, I told him what had happened. He was very upset and wished I mentioned it to him in the bus.
I regret not telling my then BF what had just happened. Why was I scared and worried about what my bf would do to this guy? This particular incident remains my biggest regret. If that man could try to assault me-an adult- who knows what he does to younger girls who cannot speak for themselves. I mean, I may be near petite but I am not a child yet he was bold enough to attempt such behavior IN PUBLIC? WOW!
Recently, I tried to think about why I never report these incidences. I realized that the three main reasons why I never reported included;
- Fear of drawing attention to myself,
- I worry about what might happen to my assailants – I didn’t want to tarnish their reputation,
- fear that no one would believe me.
These are pretty standard reasons for many women who experience same. It’s becoming pretty evident that these monstrous men continue to perpetuate violence against women because we never reporting. Underreporting is still at an all time high. This survey showed that 71% of women do not report sexual harassment.
With this in mind and the recent surge of VAW cases on the internet, I have made the decision to no longer hold back. I will no longer keep silent thus protecting the men who assault me and other women. Like I say on social media; if you are unfortunate enough to sexually harass/assault me you should be okay with getting on the sex offender registry. If you assault me in any way, shape or form, I will report you.
I will no longer indirectly protect men who try to violate me and other women. There are consequences for our actions. You should think about consequences before assaulting or harassing someone. I do not care about your reputation, your family or your job. I will pray and hope for grace to forgive you (because it’s the Christian thing to do) but not after I report the case because you deserve to face the consequences of your action.
This is coming after years of holding back and tolerating the nonsense we as women have to face. We cannot control how these irresponsible men act, but we can report them and push for justice. I know this may be hard for many especially the women who worry about retaliation. I would only hope that you find a way out of that trap.
This is me freeing myself of the burden of protecting my assailants. I will unapologetically lend my voice to issues affecting women including sexual violence. This is me growing into the woman who has a voice and uses it. This is me standing in solidarity with every woman.
Share your experience in the comment if you’re comfortable enough. If you ever need to talk about this with someone, my email and DMs are always open.
Love & Hearts,