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There's a Reason Women Feel Unsafe

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Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

The recent death of 33-year-old Sarah Everard is yet another reminder that women are not safe.

• What is PTSD?

Many women right now, quite understandably, don’t feel safe and protected. Our lives have been under constant threat throughout history, and too many women grow up with the fear of being murdered or sexually abused or both. For years, women have been failed by the judicial system, where violence rooted in misogyny gets thrown back in our faces. In this process, women have been stereotypically degraded by being branded: revengeful, “crying out” rape or even silenced with a psychiatrist diagnosis, labeling their natural responses to trauma as hysteria or crazy. So nobody believes a woman, for she is sure to be either a “liar” or “crazy” or “revengeful.”

Many perpetrators know they can get away with it. They form relationships with women in order to get away with it because in the past, a woman was seen as a man’s property and a husband had a license to rape. In fact, sexual violence and abuse of any kind and form is normalized. We live in a rape culture, it’s even excused by the saying: “boys will be boys.”

Women are silenced because they are conditioned to be polite, submissive, appease, smile and tolerate it because they are required to be “lady like” and “a lady.” Basically, women need to be victims and “enjoy it.” Some porn even supports this notion and the sexually abusive mindset, violent clips of women being tortured and made to act like they are “enjoying it.” After all, women are seen as temptresses, just being female and having a body makes them guilty.

These terrible myths and destructive messages make it harder for women to feel safe reporting their violations. The message is, women are unsafe, women are alone in this, women are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

On top of this, it’s even harder for Black and Brown women to feel safe, for they have the added oppression and threat of racism on top of the sexism and misogyny. I recall how I didn’t want to report what happened to me because I knew it would amount to nothing but greater shame. Never being believed, a sense of worthlessness that already ran so deep. I reported it, but of course by then it was too late, and that went against me.

What made it worse was that female police officers betrayed me, other women. One came to take the statement, and when she found out I knew the perpetrator, she lost all interest and pressured me to sign a flimsy statement she had written. She didn’t use the words I did and when I pointed it out, she dismissed it saying it meant the same. I defeatedly signed it.

Later, when anger took and I went to the police station to stand up for myself, again a woman police offer branded me a liar and when I challenged her she threatened to lock me up. The verdict came from another female police officer branding me just bitter, revengeful and telling me that they were not going to go ahead with the case. This is even when I provided a letter from my perpetrator that confessed to having tortured me out of revenge. So, whilst there is a problem with men and male violence, misogyny influences everyone.

If you are a man, please challenge your male counterparts and do your part, look inside yourself and make the change. If you are a woman, fight alongside other women who need your help and support to bring about change. Feminism needs us all. We all have a responsibility to end this and all other forms of violence and oppression.

It begins with us, as Audre Lorde stated: “Your silence will not protect you.”

Getty image via Ponomariova_Maria

Originally published: March 23, 2021
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