Sexual harassment is a snake that has slithered into our communities and suffocated a countless amount of innocent lives. Society has made it extremely difficult to speak out against sexual offenses, and those who do stand up are constantly ridiculed. Even in the face of these challenges, there are warriors who decide to take a stance against society. This is the moving story of one of these warriors, Amira.
“Honestly, I was just 14 years and I didn’t even know like I had an idea of what harassment was because of dramas and movies, but I didn’t expect that person.” Amira’s assaulter was the owner of the home her family was renting. Her father regarded him as a friend as he was understanding of their circumstances & why they couldn’t pay rent at times. One day, the assaulter decided to manipulate this friendship by telling Amira’s father he needed to give his daughters a special item. He was married, but he tactfully chose a time when his wife was out of the house. “He sent my sister to get him a glass of water, and he tried to touch me. I pushed him away, but he did get his hand under my shirt. I pushed him with my nails and bit him really hard. He replied with, ‘Even if you scream, nobody is going to help you. Nobody is going to blame me for this, because it’s always a girls’ fault.’” When her sister came back with the water Amira was able to secretly communicate that they needed to get out of that house immediately. Even after his disgusting acts, this perpetrator relentlessly continued to harass Amira. “He kept telling my dad, ‘You don’t have to pay rent if you let me marry your daughter.’ He kept saying ‘I’m rich, I’ll give her a home, you don’t have to do anything to earn.’” This is how a seemingly harmless friendship quickly took a turn for the worst.
“I was completely broken from inside. I had no one to talk to because parents are something else, you can’t tell them these types of problems, and you know it’s going to hurt the family name.” During this time, Amira was at a point where she had to leave her education, as well as friends she had known since kindergarten, behind. When she mustered up the courage to tell her mother, she was slightly relieved by hearing it wasn’t her fault and that men are “just like that”. However, this was not nearly enough to erase what had already been engraved into her mind. How can one simply forget an experience as traumatic as that? “I still have trauma, when I see some old man, I get fast chills because the memory comes back in my head.” The debris leftover from this catastrophe are not easy to clean up. It will take time, patience, and resilience to restore everything back to a stronger version of itself.
“My mental health, honestly, was pretty disturbed. There was a time when I took six pills a day for headaches.” Mental state is a crucial part of our overall health. Disturbing events can alter the ways we think and act towards others. Amira was so overwhelmed and stressed that she couldn’t think straight. Her behavior towards others drastically changed as she began to see the downside to absolutely everything. “Whenever someone used to tell me that they got something new, I would always find the negative side of it and try to bring them down. I would say things like ‘It’s okay, you’re gonna lose it anyway’ or ‘It’s okay, it’s going to break anyway so don’t get too attached to it.’” Amira’s attitude was a way of building up a wall to protect herself on the inside. Reflecting her own frustration and pessimism unto others was a natural response that was rooted within the raging war going on inside of her. “Even if someone would compliment me and tell me that I am pretty, I would take it as an insult. To me, that meant that I had to change myself because maybe that’s why he touched me like that. Maybe I had to stop being pretty if I wanted to stop it from happening.” She began to think that it was her fault that such a repulsive man had harassed her. Amira had begun to internalize her experience and use it to portray herself as if she was the one at fault.
“You just have to sit in front of the mirror, close your eyes, count to 3 with every deep breath you take, and make yourself say, ‘It wasn’t my fault and I can get through this.’” Don’t blame yourself for something you had no control over when you know, in your heart, that it was never your fault. “If you deep down know what kind of person you are and that you didn’t do anything wrong, you don’t have to explain it to anyone else. You just have to keep it inside your heart, and one day, people will see it through your eyes and they’re going to realize that they were wrong.” Staying true to your heart and never wavering will power your journey of recovery. The trust you have in yourself is the greatest weapon you have to stand up against your adversaries. “You have to exist for yourself and you have to love yourself. You have to push through your limits and get the best of you.”
“You have to stand up to the person that assaulted you. If you don’t, they are going to keep taking advantage of it, and in the end, nothing is going to change.” Standing up does not necessarily mean telling others your story, it can be done in any way that empowers yourself. Standing up means that you will take the step to prove to yourself that you are worth more than anybody could ever imagine. “People judge you all the time, and people are never going to change, but you’re not living your life for people. You’re living your life for you.” People are so stuck in their own mindsets that at some point you have to realize that you don’t have to fit into their definitions. Define yourself, because nobody can ever take that away from you.