When I allowed Claire to write a post on sexual harassment for the #SpeakUp series I didn't really know what to expect. I have been fortune enough not to have to go through something as horrible as sexual harassment. If I'm honest, I didn't know much about sexual harassment before I read Claire's post. I am an advocate for supporting the importance of consent and believe that I am pretty educated when it comes to what consent sounds like, but when it comes to sexual harassment, I'm pretty clueless.
Sexual harassment is "harassment (typically of a woman) in a workplace, or other professional or social situation, involving the making of unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks." but I we all know it can be so much more. The impacts of sexual harassment can be devastating and pretty horrific for the victim. Sexual harassment can take many different forms and can last for varying periods of time. Someone who knows all too well about this is Claire.
I'm so proud of Claire for sharing such a personal story in such a delicate way. Sexual harassment is definitely something which is not spoken up about enough in the blogging community or in society in general. Whether that's because women ( or men for that matter) are embarrassed to talk about it in the fear they will be told they are making a fuss about nothing or if they don't even realise It's a problem, to begin with. You don't have to go through sexual harassment alone. Tell someone and keep telling them till something is done about it. I'm so proud of Claire for writing this post so please be kind and so her some love.
I've not yet seen a blogger speak about this topic; I'm pretty sure it will have been but I've just not seen it, I think it needs to be openly spoken about more because I don't think it's spoken about enough. It is a thing, and it does happen, and it can have an emotional impact on someone's life just like it did with mine.
Sexual harassment is just as damaging as sexual abuse or rape. I didn't like the attention, and I couldn't stand how it made me feel one little bit. Which is why I wanted to talk about my experience with sexual harassment in hope to raise more awareness and make people realise it's not a cool thing to do, and you're making the victim feel extremely uncomfortable.
I was sexually harassed. It sounds so weird saying out allowed but it took me some time to come to terms with it. I wasn't harassed physically, but I was harassed verbally which is equally just as serious. It happened when I was 19 in my workplace. It started when I was leaning over to tidy up the products on the shelf, and one of my other work colleagues openly told me he stopped walking to stare at my bum as I was slightly bending over.
He told me he wasn't, he was wondering what I was doing. Apparently, I looked like I was messing with my hair bent over. An hour later he comes to me pushing and pushing attempting to speak to me but I just completely blanked him because I wasn't interested. He then turned round and said to me " You not talking to me now, a girl like you should enjoy the attention, you're very attractive". I'm not trying to blow my own trumpet here this is exactly what happened. So by his comment that just clarified to me, he was checking me out, and he was making inappropriate comments which weren't invited.
From then on I didn't want him anywhere near me because when he did approach me it was like I just curled right back up into my shell, I felt extremely uncomfortable, in fact, I was terrified. As disgusting as it is I started to sweat I was becoming that anxious and I was rather shaky because I honestly didn't know if anything further was going to happen like he'd make 'a move' or anything, then would have been in a situation I didn't want to be in. I also tried to not position my body in the same way I did previously when he was around so he wouldn't make any other inappropriate comments.
I even try not to do it in general in front of other colleagues and customers now. After a few more shifts he then made another comment which drew the line then because I was willing to let it go considering it was only one comment. But then he made it two comments; he said something along the lines of "Ooh I'd go around that arse in so many days". At that point, I'd just had it, and it nearly caused me to break down crying in work, but I held it in until I got home.
I then decided to report it to my boss and this time, thank the Lord I had a witness. Someone had heard the second comment and already reported it before me, So whoever it was ( I still don't know because it became confidential) I'm so thankful you had my back, and it was recognized, I really appreciated it because then I wasn't able to be accused of lying and trying to cause trouble. I was told they take things like this seriously, but I really don't think it was. Even though the comments and behaviour have stopped and he doesn't speak to me anymore, which obviously I was happy about but I was never spoken to about it since I was never asked if I'm okay or how I'm doing or even how I feel about it afterwards.
I was basically left alone to become more paranoid and deal with it on my own. This is the first time I've spoken about it since not even my boyfriend or mum knew how I was feeling afterwards. This is a big step for me talking about it on social media where ANYONE can see this.
I still feel sick to my stomach; I still feel disgusted in myself, and I feel like it was my fault for bending over in the first place. I shouldn't be blaming myself, but all these things still run through my head. I have a rubbish confidence anyway but this just made my confidence plummet so low. As much as I tell myself he didn't have a right to do any of that which is the truth, I can't help but still feel that way because it's not a nice thing to go through when you don't give permission, and I wouldn't wish it upon anyone.
If you've gone through anything like this or currently going through it, even for future reference if you do experience it (touch wood you don't) please, please tell someone because it's not fair to deal with it alone and it is sexual harassment, it's out of order, and it's not okay. It's important that you report it so it can be dealt with, I just hope it's taken seriously.
If you have any questions, or you want to speak to me privately then you can DM on Twitter: @mylittlememoir_ or you can Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I was honestly shocked reading this, at how poorly Claire's sexual harassment incident was dealt with. But I hope that by speaking up about her experience with sexual harassment it will make others more aware of what sexual harassment is and how you can deal with it. If you would like to write a post for the #SpeakUp project about anything that affects young people's health and wellbeing. Please email: email@example.com and I will endeavour to reply to you as quickly as possible.
Thank you for reading, as always X