**TRIGGER WARNING** This article contains mention of sexual abuse.
Hey guys! We made it to week 2 of the Afrobloggers Winter Blogging Challenge. The theme for this week is “Advocacy Week”. For the next 5 days, I will take time to share with you guys my stance and to show support for some causes I’m passionate about. I’ll start with speaking against sexual abuse
Sometime last year, in June to be specific, some sexual abuse survivors took to social media to share their stories. One thing that somehow stood out to me, in the ocean of survivor stories, was the little island of people who just realised, by reading other people’s stories, that they too had been sexually abused or harassed. A good number of them by their friends.
On the same day, or a couple of days later, I was talking to one of my best friends about everything that was going on and about sexual abuse in general. He reminded me of something that used to happen in highschool, saying, “That was probably harassment too.” I’ll share that here.
When I was in Grade 10, the Grade 10’s and 11’s shared the same bathrooms as the classes were in the same block. The bathroom for the girls was next to one of the Grade 11 classes and so to go to those bathrooms, I had to walk passed a number of Grade 11 classes. What had become the trend was that everyday, towards the end of lunch break, the Grade 11 boys would line up in the hallway, standing on either side and the only way to get to the bathroom was by walking in between them.
So, one time, I was going to the bathroom with my friends and as I walked through the hallway the boys had lined up along, I felt a number of hands touch my bum. So I stopped at the entrance of the bathroom, turned around and told them never to do that to me again. It was hard to point out who did what because there were quite a number of guys and many hands. Eventually, I stopped going to the bathroom at the end of lunch hour because I simply felt violated.
At that time, I didn’t understand it was a form of sexual harassment. I just knew they shouldn’t have been doing that. So during the next meeting the girls had with the school counselor, I brought it up and believe it or not, some girls were mad at me for telling the counselor what was going on. I choose to believe they were upset because they didn’t know that we were being harassed and it was probably a fun game to some of them. Getting attention from senior boys. No consent and all. It’s funny how I had to learn from social media, 5 years later, that it was actually harassment.
Anyway, that made me realise that a lot of people go through things or are unknowingly harassed or abused by people they know. It’s at times like that where I’m forced to believe ignorance is bliss because what you don’t know won’t hurt you, right? I feel like the moment you know it was actually harassment or abuse, a part of your life just changes.
So today I speak for those who trusted their older friends who were more sexually aware than they were. Those who trusted their older friends to “play games” with them. Those who had no idea that what was being done to them was wrong. Those whose innocence was taken advantage of. I speak for those who had to accept that they were abused, many years later.
I speak for the school kids whose teachers never fought for them. Those who were preyed on by people years older than them. I speak for those who thought it was all fun and games until twitter told them it wasn’t.
I speak for the children sexually abused by their parents. Those whose mothers have turned a blind eye because they want to save their marriages. Those who can’t tell a soul what happened because the people they believe were meant to fight for and protect them, are the ones who hurt them.
Today I speak for those who have been let down by their friends. Those whose only mistake was to trust those in their circle.
I speak for those abused by strangers. Those who a simple walk turned into something life altering. I speak for those who society has refused to protect. I speak for those who sexual abuse or harassment has become the norm in their lives and they feel nothing at this point.
I speak for those whose silence was mistaken for consent, those whose asking for a ride home was mistaken for consent, those whose smiles were mistaken for consent and for those whose “No” was easily ignored.
I speak for all those who have been abused or harassed. I wish saying “Stop Sexual Abuse” could do more than it does because sometimes, it feels insignificant. Like a drop in the ocean. Regardless, let’s all do our part in stopping sexual abuse or harassment. Whether it be educating yourself on what can or cannot be done, by talking to your friends when they do or say something they shouldn’t, or reporting abusers.
I just hope things get better and we can all do right by each other. I also hope that one day, people can understand the very simple thing, that is consent.
Leave a comment below and add on to “…is not consent” or “It’s not consent if…”. I’d love to see what you share. Leave it in the comments. I’ll start. Being in a relationship is not consent.
Thanks for reading!
It’s week 2 of the Afrobloggers Winter Blogging Challenge. I love that I’m taking part in a winter blogging challenge when I feel like the temperatures have never been higher in my part of the world. This week is all things advocacy. I’ll be talking about some of the things that matter to me and to other people too. Follow the blog to keep up with everything.
Find all the WinterABC 2021 posts here!