The intense angry sexual assault conversations knocked down the door to my secret pain. For all intent and purposes, I am well adjusted. I live in my worthiness, I believe my circumstances are not who I am. And, my abusers have long since died. However, on rare occasions, unpredicted triggers catch my breath in hushed fury. I ask the ghosts “How could you? How dare you? YOU were supposed to protect me.”
Yet, I never told.
“The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports receiving 12,000 allegations of sex-based harassment each year, with women accounting for about 83 percent of the complainants. That figure is believed to be just the tip of the iceberg. In a study issued last year, the co-chairwomen of a commission task force said that roughly three to four people experiencing such harassment never tell anyone in authority about it. Instead, they said women typically “avoid the harasser, deny or downplay the gravity of the situation, or attempt to ignore, forget, or endure the behavior.”
Let’s begin by making sure we are all on the same page. Sexual harassment and behaviors that fall under this category include: inappropriate touching; invasion of privacy; sexual jokes; lewd or obscene comments or gestures; exposing body parts; showing graphic images; unwelcome sexual emails, text messages, or phone calls; sexual bribery, coercion, and overt requests for sex; sexual favoritism; being offered a benefit for a sexual favor; being denied a promotion or pay raise because you didn’t cooperate. And of course, some women experience what more aptly could be described as sexual assault: being forced to perform oral sex on a man in a position of power, a man in power forcing himself on the woman either orally, vaginally, or anally, being drugged and rendered unconscious or incapable of defending oneself.
While I recognize that men are also sexually harassed and assaulted, due to limited space, I am going to limit this article to a discussion about female victims of sexual harassment and assault. Male victims do, however, suffer from many of the same after-effects and have many of the same reasons for not coming forward.
One of the primary reasons women don’t come forward to report sexual harassment or assault is the shame. Shame is at the core of the intense emotional wounding women and men experience when they are sexually violated. Gershen Kaufman aptly stated in his book Shame: The Power of Caring, “Shame is a natural reaction to being violated or abused. In fact, abuse, by its very nature, is humiliating and dehumanizing.” This is especially true for sexual violations. The victim feels invaded and defiled, while simultaneously experiencing the indignity of being helpless and at the mercy of another person.”
 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-compassion-chronicles/201711/why-dont-victims-sexual-harassment-come-forward-soonerUntil next time, remember,
You are not alone.
You are not your circumstances.
You have everything within you to live a purpose-filled life.