Sexual Harassment can and does occur in many different ways. For instance, it occurs most obvious when a sexual favor is requested, suggested or in sexual advances that are not welcomed. They can even come in the form of physical sexual assault, via illicit drugs, alcohol or other sedatives.
Victims of sexual harassment/assault are most often thought of as women and that is certainly true, but the reality is, it can be men, women and young innocent children. The offender can be someone of either sex and it’s important to remember that the offense can be done to a person of the same sex.
The EEOC defines the offense as follows:
“Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.”
How does Sexual Assault happen?
Sexual Assault often happens by individuals that are known to the victim.
The victim could be a son or daughter victimised by a parent, a sibling, a relative or even a spouse or other sexual partner.
A neighbor assaulting a neighbor of any age. Parents trading their children for drug, money or favor. An employer assaulting an employee, and also assault between co-workers, clients, and customers. Sexual assault happens in school between students, teachers assaulting students. And even within the church with religious leaders victimising their members and many more.
Its also important to remember that A bystander who witnessed an assault can also be a victim, forever traumatized by what they saw.
A little background on my story of abuse.
I was 4 years old when a relative lady made me touch her and expose herself to me.
(Pause for effect)
At 5 years a relative of mine, a man undressed me.
At 6 years of age, a house guest assaulted me… and started doing so…daily.
At 7 years of age, at 8, at 9, the sexual and physical assaulting continued each and every year.
(Pause… let this reality sink in with the audience)
In middle school, I witnessed children assaulting other children.
In High school, my teacher started sexually harassing me.
And at 14, I was raped…
On the streets, public transportation and out in city parks in the broad daylight with other people around, sexual harassment was a daily companion for me.
When I went to university I thought things would get better and change
In College my classmate assaulted
In the workplace, most of my employers harassed me and assaulted me, kidnapped me and when I did not give in to them, they sacked me.
Every single experience from my 4 years of age has been etched in my memory. It was traumatic and some severely traumatic.
There were many signs.
Physical effects– Eating disorder was an early sign Self Harm which my parents had no idea.
Headaches and migraines
Pain in certain parts of the body
Lethargic and lazy
Emotional effects-Lack of concentration
Lack of emotions
Lack of emotions
Stingy and selfish
Mental effects – Poor comprehension
Social effects Inability to be social
Making awkward statements or body language
There are many more signs that parents and adults can pick up on:
Bedwetting is a common sight,
Nightmares and screaming in the night.
Going into a “shell” and not mingling,
Doing things to get attention or praise
Unless adults are able to recognize these signs and break the cycle, the victim falls into a downward spiral, as one socially inappropriate behavior leads to more rebukes, awkward looks/stares and labels and statements, this causes the person to shrink inwardly more and more.
Every child that has some of these symptoms might not have gone through abuse, but it is good to ask and make sure they have a safe place to share and not feel shamed more.
One of the first effects I had is shame and guilt. I thought there was something wrong with my every inner being for me to be a target. Any amount of showers or scrubbing the body did not seem to take that inner shame and guilt away. I blamed myself and told myself that it was my fault, inviting this assault.
I stood in the shower for several hours. I scrubbed hard and came out with a sore body, from the assault and the scrubbing added to it.
I thought “ that was not so bad” “I survived it”, “I am OK and everything is fine” I was in denial.
Looking back I understand that my mind and emotions and social skills got disoriented causing me to not understand, what I was reading or learning. I became very fidgety and distracted, lost in my own world of fantasy, a safe place that I romanticized in to get away from my hellish reality.
Since I felt tremendous shame, my guilt lead me to other addictive behaviors, it was very awkward to be in a social set up. I loved to isolate myself from everyone else, and if I was not able to, then I was rebellious. I thought that I am the only person in the entire social structure that is really bad.
In an Indian culture, we have fewer boundaries than in a western culture and many times I did not know what those boundaries were. It was so difficult to trust anyone, and I was easily swayed. In an Indian culture, we have to respect anyone older than us and be obedient to them to show honor. Disobedience was punishable by a severe spanking/beating and I did not want to be spanked (hit). It was actually less painful for the moment to be abused than to be spanked for disobedience. Little did I know that the pain of Sexual abuse would stay with me for a much longer time and I would forget the about the number of times I was spanked.
Sexual abuse is a very deep violation of the private sacred space of a person; It causes massive amounts of shame when you’re invaded. It is humiliating, degrading and leaves you feeling naked and worthless. None of us want to talk about such things, because of the fear of criticism and judgment. It is far more humiliating to be exposed AND violated, which involves all the senses like taste, touch, sights, sounds and smells with another human being along with all the hormones released during the assault.
As days went by and turned into years, I began noticing that I was becoming sick very often, with my immunity compromised. My memory of different things was fading. My parents could not understand why I could not remember certain trips or activities that we did as a family.
In particular, a couple of my events were very traumatic, and my body and mind were fighting to get out of it, causing the body to tighten up and be tense. This recurring trauma to the body and mind and emotions took a heavy toll on my health. Migraines and fibromyalgia were just two of them to name a few.
There are many more effects which I am not going to mention here.
On the Road to Healing
My healing started at the age of 24 and it took a long time to be healed in my mind, body, emotions and socially.
Medications will only take away the symptoms, or numb the pain for a little time. My healing was possible because I received Jesus who took away all my shame and guilt on himself.
Drugs, alcohol, and any other addictive behavior that people depend on for forgetting the pain, is only a temporary bandage. People who do not believe in Jesus can argue as much as they want against my experience, but my experience triumphs over their theoretical argument.
Next Steps/Getting Help
If you are reading this and if you have gone through abuse or you know a loved one that has gone through abuse, please reach out for help. If you have not found any help yet from you people you know, then please connect with me.
I have seen, several people healed and restored and walking in the fullness of their identity and destiny.