Sexual harassment is about power; it is emotional abuse. Such bullying behaviour takes away an individual’s power, voice, self-belief, freedom. When these things happen to us in early life we may find that later on we end up sleeping with a bully because it feels familiar.
Ironically, we can become attracted to what has hurt us. We want the approval and validation of our abuser. A relationship such as this is toxic. It risks setting us up for future relationships which are unfulfilling and abusive. In a situation like this we may no longer know what is a healthy relationship. We internalise these experiences and they become part of our belief system. We hide, we feel shame, we feel guilt. We feel fear.
So - what do we do? Well, often we develop a barrier between ourselves and the outside world. This eats into our self-worth, and affects our relationships. It often manifests itself in our low self-esteem, body issues, eating disorders, depression, anxiety.
Sexual harassment is everyone’s problem. It affects all our relationships and the quality of our lives.
We all have to do things in our own way because we are unique beings. So we need to take ownership. In doing so, asking questions of ourselves is a good place to start:
- Do I say what I mean and mean what I say?
- How am I communicating? Am I living in my head? (if so, I may have disengaged from the outside world).
- Am I listening to what is not being said? (Listening is about more than words).
- It is important to accept the truth of the other person, and validate their feelings (rather than dismiss them and put our own spin on things).
Above all, it is important to resist judging others: it only disempowers them.
Photo by Sunyu