The Long Road of #metoo

Just when you think you’re getting away
No escape from the deal you made
You walked right into his plan
Run as fast as you think you can
Back from wherever you came
Call the devil by any name
Oh no! Now, who you do blame?
Should have listened to what I’d said
What I’d said, what I’d said, yeah!
Let me tell you it’s a hard road to hell without no soul
Lyrics from Long Road to Hell by Avicii

Sexual intimidation… those incidents that mark someone’s life forever, that cause mental problems, that make them doubt themselves, make them isolate themselves from specific situations, changes the direction of their lives.

Intimidation is when you try to frighten a weaker person into doing what you want.

I will always condemn sexual intimidation. Any kind of intimidation, for that matter. I am one of the happy ones, as I don’t feel like I have gone through any sexual intimidation, even though I know that some of the things I have experienced, definitely can be classified as that. This is the reason why I wanted to write for this prompt, because even though I don’t feel traumatized, others might be traumatized because of similar situations. We need to speak up to create more awareness.

9-year-old me and #metoo

I have written about this before, that I have been sexually abused as a 9-year-old, but that I never thought of myself as traumatized. What I was ashamed of for years was not what had happened, but the fact that it didn’t color my later life. But, how can I know whether it has colored my later life or not? What would my later sex life have been like if I had not gone through that? Would I have been the girl I had been, thinking love and sex is exactly the same thing? Would I have made better choices? Would I have fallen pregnant when I was sixteen?

Those are all questions I have frequently wondered about, but I never dwelled on them. To me it’s the same as taking the one road home, ending up in a traffic jam and then thinking you should’ve take the other road, because that would’ve been quicker. You never know, because you weren’t there. You only know what you have experienced, and it’s better not to dwell on what could’ve been, as that will drive you crazy.

What happened to me when I was 9 was not okay, and it’s bound to have colored my life in some or other way.

15-year-old me and #metoo

One thing I don’t think I ever mentioned on this blog is what happened with a colleague and friend of my father’s when I was fifteen. I was never a big girl and back then I was as light as a feather, being a gymnast who trained several times a week. This colleague of my father and his wife and small children frequently came to visit us, and we them. They were of the generation between that of my parents and us. I also frequently went to visit them after school, and one day when I did, the man was home alone. I can’t remember where his wife and kids were.

It made me feel uncomfortable that I was alone with him, and I have no idea whether this was because of anything my parents have said, or whether I had a feeling something might happen. It did. He pulled me onto his lap and in an instant his hand was under my school uniform and on my sex. For moments I was stunned, and sat still, but then I giggled and wriggled myself loose from his grip and shortly after I left. Up to today, I remember clearly: in the moment, I felt ashamed and as if I had done something wrong, both because of what he had done (did I cause it?) and because I freed myself from him. The ‘guilt’ for the latter was intensified because they stopped visiting us.

27-year-old me and #metoo

For nine months in my life, from my 27th birthday in late February until halfway through December of the same year, I had been treated wrongly by one man, who threatened to ruin my career, and eventually was the cause of me leaving my country and fleeing to where I am today. In a way he had done me a huge favor, but at the time I couldn’t see it like that. This will be shared starting the first week of October.

50-year-old me and #metoo

I guess over the years I have learned that when I don’t agree with the way I am treated, I should say it. Now this doesn’t mean that I do this every time, because sometimes I am second-guessing myself for too long and then the moment is over. It seems that it’s easier to speak up to people who I tolerate. It happened once in a bar that a man who I seriously have never ever seen sober, placed his arms around my shoulder as if I was his biggest friend. I know my voice was very cold when I asked: “May I ask you to remove your arm?” His answer was “yes, you may,” but his arm stayed in place. My reaction: “Stop. Touching. Me.” and that had exactly the effect I wanted it to have.

It also happened at my work. We have a service guy for some of our machines, and he thinks he’s the funniest guy alive. When he walks in, people start disappearing, because no one wants to talk to him. Oh yes, he’s always friendly and making jokes, but to the point where it’s irritating and the jokes towards some people seem like pestering. One day I stood at a counter and he ‘joked’ with me, while at the same time he put his arm around my shoulders. It was like a snake bit him when I asked him to remove his arm. He had no idea how quickly to do so, and from there on he was a bit cooler towards me, which suits me just fine.

Boundaries and speaking up

My personal opinion is that you should know your own boundaries to know when you should speak up. Only thing is, if you are like me, then you only learn much later in life to speak up. I also learned far too late what my boundaries are, which brings me back to what happened when I was 9. Can the fact that I didn’t know my own boundaries for many years, be because of what happened when I was a child? Does the reason why I never spoke up when things made me feel uncomfortable lie in the fact that I have been abused as a child?

I have colleagues who say that when someone does something to you that can be classified as #metoo, you should just speak up, and tell them to fuck off. I agree with them, but I also add that you should have the courage to do so, because we all come from a different background, and some of us already carry baggage with us which color things that happens now, and influence our reactions.

I will never say that I can be assertive in any #metoo situation, but I can say that in this second half of my life, I am at least aware of my own boundaries, and speak up when people cross it. But it’s been a long road to get where I am now…

© Rebel’s Notes

Food for Thought Friday
The September Song Project

8 thoughts on “The Long Road of #metoo

  1. This is a great post Marie. I do understand what you mean about not being traumatised by what happened to you at 9 years. I understand it in that in my situation I was not hurt so as i got older I almost felt a fraud for calling it abuse. But of course it was – just as yours was and one can never know what sex would be like if those things had never happened as that was not the path either of us were destined for.
    xx

  2. It’s horrid that these things happened to you, but I’m so grateful you shared them with us for F4T, predominantly for the reason you stated at the beginning of your post, for those people who have been through similar and feel traumatised or trapped by their experiences, I hope posts like yours and the many others shared since #MeToo started circulating show them that they’re not alone and that what happened to them isn’t okay. I also think speaking up when you feel uncomfortable is easier said than done sometimes, especially when you don’t know what the reaction will be when you say no, or ask someone to adjust their behaviour. All to often people become aggressive in the face of aggression, so I totally understand why many people, myself included sometimes struggle to make those boundaries clear. Fab post as always Marie x

  3. It is amazing to find at a later age that there is such a thing called boundaries and how to set them for yourself and others. It is also sad to know that it is a universal problem for girls especially, even today. Educating young girls and boys about consent and knowing what is right and wrong for yourself is so important. As well as being able to speak up for yourself. I am very interested to read your post in October! xx

  4. Every experience in our life shapes us in some way, even if we are unaware. Boundaries are hard for a lot of people, especially women, because most of us were trained from a young age to be pleasers. I think that has been changing in many countries and cultures.

    One must know what they want and don’t want before they can set effective boundaries, and that usually comes with age and experience. But even young people know what feels right and wrong. If it doesn’t feel wrong it will only become an issue if someone or something shows the person later that it was wrong, and that can cause guilt (both for the experience and for not having already felt “wrong”).

    No one should be taken advatage of or hurt or assaulted…but it happens every day (all genders and orientations). Having boundaries, as you mention, is the first step to protecting ourselves. Voicing them is the second. Speaking up is the third.

  5. I can relate to a lot of the feelings that you have written about here. I also agree with what you say about knowing your boundaries. I think I have got better but my life now means that I don’t really need them like I did when I was younger as I am no longer in those situations. It is interesting that I am able to assert myself much more on behalf of others than I even am for myself. Interesting post and you made me think. Thank you for sharing 😊

  6. My God! That has been horrible for you! That leaves terrible scars for a wee girl especially. Did you confide in anyone worthwhile?
    I have never been molested like that except when my husband tried to rape me one time after i had tried to get him interested in having sex. I had dressed up in some “sexy” underwear, and he called me a whore for doing so. Later he tried to force himself on me. I resisted thank God and it never happened again. he didn’t speak to me for days afterwards. Probably because I’m no oil painting, I never had any issues with attention from men until Rex. He’s all over me all the time, but I want him to be! lol.

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