I am the little girl crossing the street. I am the teenager confused by changes and struggling to fit in. I am the woman working hard to make my life mean something good. I am the granny sitting on my bed, looking at the past while waiting for my grandchildren to come home. I am they, and they are me. We are women. Women who are part of the roughly one billion people around the world who has been sexually harassed one way or another.
Although we do not wish it so, we are connected not only by our womanhood, but also by our shared nightmare. It is a nightmare that burned through our psyche and left a scar that still hurts from time to time. It is a nightmare that has affected our lives, made us question ourselves and limit what we can do.
We became afraid to step out. We became afraid to trust. We became afraid not just for us, but also for each one who may experience what we have gone through.
Yet it is a nightmare that is kept close and locked, our fear of ridicule and injustice stopping us from releasing it to the world.
We have heard stories. Stories of people brave enough to release the disgusting truth of their nightmare, to share the horror and the pain, to show the scars that remain. But as much as they inspire us, most of the reception to their stories only serve to validate that this world is still ruled by injustice and hate.
And so we keep our silence even as it burns a hole so dark and so deep that sometimes we feel our lives are ruined forever just as much as our bodies and minds were violated by those callous words and actions.
To the people who think that what we went through is okay. To those who dismiss it or say it’s our fault, we looked like we wanted to play. To those who think it is normal or say, “Just forget about it. Move on.” You know, if only we could, we would. Who wouldn’t want to block out the ugliness of that time? Who wouldn’t want to forget the violation, the horror, the pain? Who wouldn’t want to remove the knowledge of a monster cloaked in human form, prowling the streets alive and well?
We want to. We want to very much. Better yet, we want it never to have happened. But it did.
And you belittling our tragedy is just like you adding nails onto the coffin of our souls that has been bruised and battered by that monster. You telling us that it’s no big deal or that we asked for it is like you condoning their disgusting acts and bid for self-satisfaction without regard for others.
It is just as if you were there, a dispassionate audience as we were violated and stripped of our worth and self-respect. It is like you telling us to let them be free to victimize others because, well, it’s ok. It’s normal.
I am the little girl who clung to you as you led me to my first school. I am the teenager who is excited to experience the wonders of the world. I am the woman who is balancing my need to excel in life and my responsibilities to the ones I love. I am the granny you confided in and who shares stories and wisdom whether you ask for it or not.
I am they, and they are me.
Although we did not wish it so, we are connected not only by our womanhood, but also by our shared nightmare. And I wonder, if you or someone you love was one of us, would you still be so naïve and dismissive as to think that our nightmare and our scars are the acceptable normal?