Back in 2019, when I wasn’t confident enough to stand up for myself, I was body-shamed and mentally abused in my workplace. I didn’t say anything because although many people witnessed this, they didn’t speak up, so I didn’t find the courage to do so either. It is now 2022, yet I still feel anger and shame when I remember it, and I always wonder how things would have been if I had managed to put a stop to what was happening.
A few months ago, a colleague invited me to his house. The way he looked at me, and the way he asked me, made me feel uncomfortable, so I refused. Being a man who clearly didn’t know how to respect others’ limits, he had no clue what NO meant, so he kept insisting, and I, as a woman who had grown up with stories of girls being sexually abused and of femicides, kept refusing, until he grabbed my hand and started pulling me towards his home. I was afraid but didn’t want to show it, so I just took his hand off mine, hoping he wouldn’t make another move and I made my way to my apartment. Moments later, as I was processing what just happened, I received a text: “Sorry, I was drunk’’. Oh, is that so!
I forgave him but couldn’t forget what had happened, so I avoided talking to him, or even being around him unless it had to do with work. Weeks later, I overheard him talking to our team leader, saying that he was offended by the fact that I was avoiding him and that he felt mentally abused by my behavior. He didn’t tell the whole story but claimed to be the victim.
Just a few days ago, we saw a woman that seemed to be abused by her husband and I said to my friend “let’s call the police”. My friend said that we couldn’t be sure and asked me not to worry, as somebody in their apartment was bound to do so, if this was the case. But I can’t stop asking myself, what if no one has called the police for her?
According to the World Health Organization, about 1 in 3 women will have experienced physical or mental abuse in their lifetime! And we talk about it as it is meant to happen? As if it is part of daily life? Like waking, eating, sleeping… women get abused?
I am scared, not only because of the numbers but also because it is not shocking for anyone anymore. I am scared because it is getting more normalized.
So, is it too late to break the silence?
And now let me share a secret: NO, it is not.