I carefully tried to avoid this topic since New Year’s Eve. It’s awful what happened, but I’ve experienced before that I should not give my opinion or join a conversation about sexual assault related subjects. I’ve tried that multiple times in the past and all I got were weird looks, angry people and me feeling bad because nobody understood. Because I can’t share (except with my fellow Hippo of course), I also didn’t want to hear about it. I would become too frustrated if someone would say something I thought was ‘silly’. It could also trigger me and I don’t need that at the moment, since I’ve already been triggered a lot lately.
However, last weekend I was at my parents’. They know, or are supposed to know about my past, but never seem to remember. That’s why we don’t talk about it. They don’t understand, will say those things never happened or diminish it and I’ll feel hurt, even though I shouldn’t blame them. It’s not important for them, since it never happened to them. I can’t expect everyone to know everything about me.
So, I often try to avoid the topic a bit. Turn off the radio or TV when it comes up or skip the page in the newspaper. When I was with my parents in the car for an hour, it was on the radio. And I didn’t dare to turn it off. I’ve had bad reactions to that before (not just from my parents) and I just couldn’t bring myself to explaining (again) why I couldn’t hear it. Or why I thought people were saying silly things.
40% of the women in the Netherlands feel less or not safe, because of the events in Cologne/Köln/Keulen. I’m not one of them, ‘sadly’, because I didn’t feel safe before (although I feel more safe when I’m with my fellow Hippo, because I know he protects me). There were also many people blaming the other cultures, the ‘savages’. Because here, in our civilized country, with our decent civilized people, it didn’t happen. And that bothers me. Because it isn’t true. I’m not saying that there are countries in which it happens more, that there are countries or cultures who might regard females as less than men. But it happens here too. In the Netherlands, in the US, in the UK, in Germany, in Belgium, in France, everywhere. People tend to forget that.
A researcher said that in the Netherlands a lot of women are harrassed by men or boys whose family originated from another country, such as Marocco. They would say things out in the open, cat-call. However, most women in the Netherlands were raped by men (actually raped, she clearly stated that it was made very clear to the questioned women that it was about physical borders being crossed (penetrated while you definetely didn’t approve of it) ) and not the intention or suggestion. I think it was said that 1 out of every 4 women would experience at least once sexual abuse. I’m not surprised by that number. I’m also totally not surprised that it’s hardly ever reported. But I’ll write a different blogpost about that. But it was said that it was a Dutch man 9 out of 10 times I think. She explained that while ‘immigrants’ tend to do it out in the open, and often didn’t actually do rape but more sexually harassing (which is awful too!!), that we ‘civilized people’ do it behind closed doors. Secretly. It was hardly ever found out and the abuse could exist much longer this way.
So, really, all I want to say is: it happens everywhere. Please, don’t be blind towards that. And please reach out to someone who has told (directly or indirectly) he or she suffered (sexual) abuse. Yes, it can also happen to men. There is such an enormous taboo on this and perpetrators take advantage of that. Because of all the secrecy, the fact that usually people will think it is made-up, it can continue easier. I hope we together can make this stop.
I usually don’t write about these kind of things, because it has a lot of impact on me. It can make me sad or feel down or get anxious again. But I also want to share. And I hope it will make me feel better eventually. That I found a way to express my opinion on this, without being made fun of. And if I can help someone by talking about my opinion and in the future my experiences, then I think that’s worth the pain of remembering and feeling it even more for a while.