Rape and sexual harassment are not new to me. Sadly, they aren’t new to most of us. I can count the number of individuals so dear to me who have had horrible and life-altering experiences of being coerced into a sexual situation/s. There were those who were defenseless, abused by those they trusted; those their family trusted. Others by those they meet along the way. There are those who endured it for years, others who lived through minutes of it; minutes that keep dragging on to the rest of their lives.
In an article CNN Philippines published in March 2017, one person is raped per hour in our country. I watch the news and I hear about endless cases. I pull up social media and I see the brutal truth.
It does happen. It is reality.
It hits close to home because as mentioned, I have served as a witness to the psychological effects rape and sexual harassment have on an individual. My heart breaks every time it is spoken of because given the chance to fight for the people in my life who have gone through it, I would but it’s not that easy.
What I can’t fully grasp is how perpetrators are able to get away with what they do. Worst of all, I can’t understand how victims are often even blamed.
I’m even more petrified to see how easy it is these days to sexually harass someone with the online realm we have come to embrace in our lives in the past few years.
Yet again, I am reminded of how vulnerable we all are.
Online Sexual Harassment
This is where my story for this specific case begins. I remember when I first received the message in September of 2017 while I was doing my radio show. I read it and didn’t understand what the person meant. I remember asking our radio technician about the line and she had to explain what this message means and how obscene it is. My initial reaction was to reply and shoo him away from my page. I knew I would not be able to accept merely looking away and ignoring. He was wrong and he had to be told.
But it didn’t end there.
As you can see, this individual sent more messages in September, October, December, and January. Even with me threatening that I would report him to the police, he carried on, fearless it seems. His last comment on my Facebook page was just two days ago.
I cringe at the thought of an individual so uncouth; so fearless in harassing another person, someone he does not know, online. I am afraid of the fact that people like him seem to think they can continue to harass others, be proud of it, and get away with it.
Reactions and Perception
I am appalled by how others perceive being in a situation like this, as shown above (last comment in picture). There were those who have asked me to just ignore, keep quiet, walk away. Others like the last comment in the picture above, blaming me for what has happened and telling me I “want” this. And others, who I am ever so grateful for, who know the severity of being on the receiving end of sexual harassment and telling me to push forward and fight for what is right.
What I have shared in this blog is BUT one occurrence when I was harassed online. There have been numerous other times when I have been catcalled online while doing live sessions on Facebook or in person. There have been times when I have been harassed online and touched by strangers while out. Others may say it is part of my job, but I REFUSE to accept this as part of my job. No job, whether in the public eye or private, should ever have a man or a woman feel fearful for his or her safety.
No, it isn’t okay
I refuse to look away. I refuse to keep my mouth shut. Sexual harassment, whether online or in person, is harassment. It is wrong. And the more we speak up, report them, and fight them; the more we are contributing to changing our society; to changing what has become the norm. And even more so, I refuse to be told that it is my fault that a man out there has chosen to send me obscene messages. I refuse to be told that I “want” it.
I watch a woman I love still shy away from this topic, still far from the justice she deserves because she was told to just “move on.” I watched the man who did that to her start a family of his own, those in his circle, unaware of the horrors he has inflicted on that woman.
If not for me, I write this for her and for every other woman and man out there who have been wronged, harassed, raped, abused.
I applaud the movement, and those who genuinely want to raise their voices for the right cause: simply to be heard, simply to fight for the truth, simply to achieve what’s just and fair.
And although, I’m sure, this will fall on deaf ears when it comes to the person who ‘courageously’ continues to send me obscene messages, I will somehow make sure he hears it loud and clear. That is a promise I have made to myself.
It isn’t okay and I will be heard.