Harassment

Note: this is not an answer and is not infallible; it’s just my side of the story.

It happens sometimes that you end up in uncomfortable situations which you didn’t ask for and need to quickly decide how to get out of them. I am talking about when someone is harassing you. It happened to me on a bus about around month ago. I wanted to write sooner about it, but I find only now the right moment to do so.

So the thing itself wasn’t really a big deal: as I said, I was on a bus sitting in a seat minding my own business, when I noticed that a guy, who was standing next to me, was brushing his privates parts (wearing jeans for the records) against my thigh. I moved towards the other end of the seat but he went on. It was the first time that anything like this happened to me and I was extraordinarily calm: my heart was beating the same as before I realized the thing and I wasn’t sweating or anything. Completely calm. As my mind was so calm, I decided to give myself a few seconds to decide what do: tell him something to make him stop? Get up and move to the other end of the bus? Punch him in his private parts that weren’t acting very privately? As that was the first time that it happened to me (and hopefully the last), I opted for the easiest one: I moved to the other end of the bus.

Only when I got out of the bus, got to the place where I had to, sat down, and started to think, I realized what it had happened and suddenly my heart was beating so fast and I was sweating so much, that I almost didn’t recognize myself.

I managed to calm down though and I was able to enjoy my evening, then on the way home, I called my mother and told her the whole thing. Only after that I actually felt better. What was bothering me the most was the fact of having acted “passively” meaning that I simply walked away instead of telling him something, but of course my mother told me what I had already thought: I don’t know how a person could react and I certainly don’t have superpowers, therefore the choice I made was a good one. I didn’t like it, but i understood it was the best thing I could do.

The interesting thing is that while I was still on the bus before getting out at my stop, I thought: “I am not even wearing something short”. That made click something in my brain. In that exact moment I finally understood the meaning of victim blaming and I was doing it on myself! I almost felt guilty of it for a second! Then I said: “No! No way!” So I understood that it wasn’t really my fault if that had happened to me and I understood what many people feel when they experience something of this sort.

The point of this whole story is that I want to tell to you, whoever you are, whatever your gender, whatever your age, whatever your sexual orientation, whatever your status, whatever happened to you, that it’s not your fault. You didn’t ask for it, so don’t even think to blame yourself for it.

There is also something else. It took me a while to decide to pick up the phone to tell my mother because I was scared and because I was ashamed. But then I thought: my mother is the person who cares about me the most in the world, so what am I scared of? What am I ashamed of? So I told her. And it was the best thing I could have done because the act of telling her made me feel better, almost as if it hadn’t happened at all.

I know that this is something very small and that to tell this is certainly easier than telling gravies things, but it was a true relief. Therefore, if anything like this happened to you, whoever you are, pick a person, one that you know will listen to you and that will stand by your side, and say it all. A member of your family, a friend, someone you trust. You have nothing to be ashamed of.

I hope this text did not offend anyone and I hope it will be of help for anyone who is looking for answers online. Just to be clear: this is not an answer and is not infallible; it’s just my side of the story.

All the best to you, whoever you are.

Federica

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