Tolu’s attacker threw her to the ground before she realized what was happening. “I tried everything I could to fight him off,” she says. “Only air escaped my lungs when I tried to scream”. “I pushed, kicked, punched, and scratched. And that’s when I felt a knife pierce my skin. I went completely limp.”
Sexual harassment is a serious offence that should never be taken lightly. It includes any unwanted sexual behavior—including touching or even making comments of a sexual nature. There is however a thin line between sexual harassment, teasing and flirting. In Nigeria, the rate at which sexual harassment keeps on increasing is alarming. Women, and young girls are sexually assaulted and harassed every time and little measures are in place to curb this atrocity.
We live in a world where women are seen as inferior to men. Hence, most women find it embarrassing to talk about their experiences with sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is more likely to stop if you know what it is and how to react to it. This article lists some ways that can help you deal with sexual harassment.
Speak up and clearly tell your harasser that you won’t tolerate his speech or behavior. If anyone touches you inappropriately, turn around and tell him not to touch you ever again. That usually catches the guy off guard. If your harasser persists, be firm and don’t give up. When it comes to maintaining high moral standards, be confident.
If the harasser threatens to harm you, don’t confront him. Escape the situation as quickly as possible, and seek the help of a trusted adult.
Get help. Understand that you are not alone. You have your parents, teachers and trusted friends to give you the support you need. But what if the people you tell don’t take your complaint seriously? Every time you are harassed, write down the details. Include the date, time, and location of each incident, along with what the harasser said. Then give a copy of it to your parent or teacher.
Many people treat a written complaint more seriously than a verbal one. There are also NGOs willing to listen to you and help you through the situation.
Be clear about where you stand
Your harasser may think you are okay with his actions if you ignore them or just smile. This is not only misleading but can also lead to sexual violence. Do not laugh at his improper or sexual jokes. Do not smile or nod along because of fear. Make sure that your reaction—including your facial expression—makes it clear to your harasser what you will and will not tolerate.
Pray to God
Pray to God about how you feel. You may find it really helpful especially at times when you feel that you can’t open up to another human. When you pray, you can speak freely. It helps give you a real sense of peace and calm.
You too can find that there is “a time to heal.” Take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Get needed rest.
Sadly, sexual harassment doesn’t always stop when you leave school. However, if you develop the confidence and skills you need to deal with sexual harassment now, you’ll be prepared to deal with it when you enter the workforce. And you might even stop a harasser from hurting others!
Some people make the issue of sexual harassment seem less serious, using the excuse that it is normal for boys to act that way or that victims of rape were asking for it. But no one deserves to be raped. If you were the victim of such a heinous act, you are not to blame!
It may be difficult to believe that none of this is your fault but the fact stands that no victim of sexual harassment is at fault regardless of what they were wearing. So you have two options- hold in your feelings and other negative emotions or speak out to stop your harasser from doing the same thing to others.