Talk, don't be silent! is an initiative we created together with Feminist Peace Collective. We share anonymously the stories of Caucasian women* who have been sexually harassed and abused. Our goal is to talk about our common problems by telling similar stories. If you have a story to talk about, please, share it with us by clicking on the below button.
Let's not forget that patriarchy and violence recognize no nationality, race or state borders.
My sister’s husband
I no longer know how many years have passed (probably 8 years) since my sister's husband was sexually harassing me. It started with comments carrying sexual undertones about my appearance. He then moved on to talk about sex when I was 20-21 years old and I had zero experience in this regard. He was telling me how important sexual life is and so on. This was followed by a hand touch, as if unintentionally on the chest, on the backside etc. (for example, if we were in a car and too many of us were sitting in the car, he would touch my chest. I turned around, I could not guess what was happening. When other thoughts would run through my mind, I thought it was accidental. I blamed myself again).
When my sister gave birth to her first child I stayed with them at night, helping my sister to take care of the child. And that was when the main problem started - he was watching me when my sister was asleep and I was with the baby. He was standing in front of a door, slightly ajar, looking at me from the darkened room. I thought I was going crazy and I just locked the doors, convincing myself that he was just looking at the baby. In short, even now, I am writing as if I am justifying myself. In fact, I'm not.
I just want to explain how such people manage to make harassment not look like harassment and make you live in this condition for years. I did not share this story with anyone then because I thought I was crazy. I had no knowledge, but I would still find it hard to name one for all this. The only thing I could manage was to get away from my sister, I would not go home with them anymore. I would take the baby with me to the park and I would take her back home and that was all. If my mother would come and stay there, I would go with her but then I would take a taxi back home, but I would not stay there overnight.
This story broke out about 4 years ago. A totally different incident had taken place and I had to tell all this to my pregnant sister because others were telling me whether or not I would tell her. I thought if I told her about it, I would protect her. She did not speak to me for a year and then she left her husband with two small children.
Why am I telling this story? He now lives close to where I have moved to. At first, it seemed like the biggest disadvantage of buying this apartment, but I had no other choice as I found this apartment cheap and could not miss out on it - I could not afford other options. I chose to ignore this and got down to business. Now that I have settled in this apartment and put up with the neighbourhood, I am afraid of leaving and coming back home. I think I will come across him somewhere and I often liken him to strangers on the street.
I haven't met him yet, but when I enter any establishment, I just look around to make sure that he is not around. There is a gym here and I could not visit it because I am afraid I will meet him there. Once in the store, it seemed to me that he was there. A friend of mine told me that I was blushing in the face. I only remember that my heart was beating profusely.
Lately, I have been dreaming about it too. Yesterday's dream was the limit I had reached which made me decide to write here. It was as if I saw him and chased him to suffocate him or something. I woke up with a sigh, I was so nervous.
I cannot move from this apartment and go anywhere. He lives on a street parallel to this street, not so close, but I do not know what to do with this fear and anxiety. I was talking with a psychotherapist on this topic, but it seems that I ran out of things to say in one visit, but I realize that it has done me a lot of harm, and it will take me years to get rid of it.
In addition to this, the fact that when this story broke out and I told it to my friends and relatives, everyone somehow sewed up their mouths. They probably wanted to protect me. But I guess sharing this story also hurt me separately. I needed to talk about it a lot, but I could not, but now I can forgive in different ways and I am afraid. The main purpose of writing here is probably to just talk about it.