The other day I was on the train from work. Peak time. 17.40 pm on a Friday.
A young man passed by and with the back of his forearm touched my right breast.
I froze. Nothing came out of my mouth.
Did he do it on purpose? Maybe it was just an accident. The train is packed, you can’t really start shouting at him, what if it was actually not on purpose? You would look like a fool, I thought.
My emotions, however, were very different. He has done it on purpose, you can feel it, he couldn’t have done that by mistake! I feel dirty, I don’t like it, and I haven’t said anything!, my brain kept on insisting.
Shock, Guilt, Shame…where some of the emotions going through my head.
Unfortunately, this episode happens millions of times to millions of women around the planet.
Women are sexually assaulted, harassed, and abused daily. However, when these topics are discussed, the experts, politicians and the public opinion as a whole, tend to focus always on the side of the executioners. Why do they do it? What do they get out of it? What punishment is appropriate? How should the law be enforced to stop it? Are they ill or just perverts?
However, who thinks about the victims? What happens inside our heads every single time this happens? How do we feel? How do we react? What consequences do these actions have on our lives? Does it affect our personal life? What about our sexual one?
These are questions that not many people ask themselves, and the reality is that it is the victims that we should listen to, in order find out how they feel.
When women are repeatedly treated as a piece of meat with curves, as purely unemotional sexual beings, it may be difficult for us to establish natural, healthy and positive relationships with men, both professional and personal.
Any kind of sexual abuse, assault or harassment may leave certain consequences in the victims that can last forever. And this does not only affect women but their whole environment. It is very difficult for our families, partner(s), or friends to understand what we think and feel during and after these events, and they probably feel clueless and unable to help.
To those willing to help, and not knowing how to, sometimes listening to us without judging, without laughing and without diminishing the situation; can be enough.