#IamNotAfraidToSayIt: Ukrainians share their stories of harassment

expat expatblog
Ukrainian Facebook is blowing up with terrifying stories. Let me start by saying: I am so proud. Personal stories are excruciatingly hard to share especially the ones about harassment. As I read posts from my friends, colleagues, former students, my blood turns cold. It feels like the heart stops beating because I am one of them and because I am with them.

Hundreds of thousands of emotional and physical harassment stories are being shared. The hardest thing is always to speak up. Only a few know stories I am about to share. My family is not one of them. 

I was a kid. Don’t know exactly how old I was 12, 11 it doesn’t really matter. At some point I blocked off so many parts of my childhood and adolescence – I stopped counting. I was coming home with my friend. I was thrown to the snow by two guys who lived in my neighborhood. They imitated a sexual act while I was unable to break free. My friend did nothing to help. After, when I ran into my apartment building and cried my eyes out the only thing she was able to utter was “Oh stop, they must just like you.” I am neither mad nor do I hold any other emotion toward my friend. The man is always right – that is how some were raised. It didn’t feel right nor will it ever. 

I was vacationing with my friend in Crimea. It was so amazing – both of us young college students at the seaside without “adult” supervision. It was marvelous. One night we went dancing. I don’t remember if he was just working at the club or was a manager of the place- it doesn’t matter. He tagged along on a walk with us after. While my friend was chatting with someone we met that night all I wanted was to go back to the place we were staying at. He suggested he’d walk with me since it was late. At the point when I realized I couldn’t get away from his hands I panicked. The thing that saved me was a jacket he let me borrow earlier. I managed to get out of the sleeves and threw it over his head. Then I ran. I was nineteen, naïve, thought that this will be a signal enough for him to understand the message. He ran after me. I ran faster. I got into the building and I was terrified. The front desk clerk asked him if he was a guest and did not let him in. My gratitude was overflowing. Up to the point when she said “You can’t treat men like that. If you are responsible for his arousal you have to finish the job”. Oh so many wrong points were in that sentence: but I was safe. I was safe. 

Later in life I was messaging with one of my guy friends/ interests. We were quite honest with each other. He asked me why I haven’t been intimate with anyone at that point of my life and I told him my Crimea story. All I heard back was “get over it”.  

Millions are suffering from harassment every single day. There aren’t any words to say at this point  – there has to be an action. I don’t want to look in every single nook before I enter my home. I don’t want to cross the street and change my direction when I see a group of guys walking towards me. Neither do my friends and loved ones. On any continent. Take action. I know I am.
If you want to read the stories and support every single one of us follow the hashtag #IamNotAfraidToSayIt  #ЯнеБоюсьСказати.


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