Why we speak!

Why do women who are sexually harassed and abused remain silent?

We stayed silent because our aggressors held some power over us. They were our bosses, physicians, pastors, parents, teachers—men who had some power to fire us, could possibly ruin a career forever, embarrass us, discredit us, alienate us from friends and family.

We stayed silent because we had been raised to be nice, “ladylike”, to not make a fuss, to respect authority—which served the power differential between us and our aggressors.

We stayed silent because we were young and had not developed a voice. We may have been taught a few ways to deal with schoolyard bullies, but rarely how to deal with aggressors, predators and abusers.

We stayed silent and found other ways to cope. We rationalized: it was just one kiss on the lips, one ass-grab, one breast-pinch. And it was SO long ago, why speak now. We avoided and evaded our aggressors. We told no one, or at most one trusted friend whom we enlisted to help us cope. And (having absorbed some of that societal messaging that are clothes were too tight so we asked for it, we actually enjoyed it, we questioned ourselves and our sanity

We stayed silent because harassment and abuse MUST be seen as violent, anything else is simply a complement to our beauty. Many of my Facebook friends who are males have been complimentary to me over the years. It is welcome because they are MY FRIENDS. I know them, respect them and often times love them! When I am working it’s not cool to have some random nut comment about my lips and then get angry when I do not respond with glee!

But many of us do finally speak up.

We speak up when enough time has passed that some of the raw emotion has dissipated, when we have matured, found a voice, and have the skills and life experience to distill the abuse down to timely, devastating truth-telling.

We speak up when others, too, become victims of our aggressor. That same acculturation that taught us to be nice and ladylike also taught us to speak up for others who can’t speak for themselves: to fight for the underdog, the victim. To fight for our daughters!

We speak up when our aggressor egregiously, sometimes publicly, displays more aggressive, predatory and abusive behaviors.

We must NEVER cross the line and falsely accuse or randomly threaten an OUTSTANDING male reputation. Simply because we are scorned or made a bad decision, or were confused of intent. That TOO is wrong and we should always be penalized for that unacceptable behavior. They have a right to know who we are, in my opinion!

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