Sexual Assault Awareness Month

VoiceHER
6 min readApr 6, 2021

--

I was eating dinner with a couple of my girlfriends the other day and one of my friends was telling us how a man was taking pictures of her on the train earlier that day. After telling her story, my other friend told us of a similar experience, after that, my other friend told us of an experience she had a couple of weeks ago where a man made her uncomfortable, after a while, a room full of 8 girls between the ages of 18–22 all had shared at least two experience in which a man has made them feel unsafe. As we were sharing our stories, I realized how normal we had made it sound, it didn’t sound like we were talking about sexual harassment, it sounded as if we were talking about what we ate for breakfast. It is so common for a woman to be sexually harassed at some point in her life, and when I was talking with my friends, I could tell how numb we had become to the fact that this is something that happens to women around the world every single day, and it is terrible, and it is scary, and it is not something that should be considered normal.

Society is paying more and more attention, and apps, gadgets, and so on have been made to make women feel more safe. I work at a company called VoiceHER, which is the world first voice based platform for women and non-binary. VoiceHER allows women of all backgrounds to connect with others and have deep and meaningful conversations. Since starting at VoiceHER and using the app, I have already felt more comfortable with who I am as a woman and felt empowered. If someone had asked me to write about how it feels like being a woman and the struggles we have to endure 5 months ago, I wouldn’t have done it. However, after working at VoiceHER for only 2 months, although I have a lot more work to do and more to accomplish, I feel that I have come a long way with being comfortable and most importantly confident in being a woman. I didn’t know that I needed VoiceHER, I thought that I was secure in myself enough before I started at VoiceHER and downloaded the app, but now I realize how much VoiceHER has helped me, and I genuinely recommend that all women download the app. A VoiceHER user has said, “In a room full of men and women, I feel like a woman. In a room full of only women, I feel like a person.” Although I have many men in my life that are kind, considerate, and thoughtful, I wouldn’t be able to talk to them about my experiences in the same way as I can with a group of women.

I have been catcalled, I have gotten inappropriate comments, I have been touched inappropriately, gotten unwanted pictures, been followed, and the list goes on. A couple of months ago I was walking home from dinner. I was followed by a group of men as they made inappropriate comments, tried touching me, and took photos of me. I kept my head high, walked fast, called my older brother, and eventually went up to a guard standing outside of a restaurant and asked him to help me, which he did. The next day I was talking to my mom on the phone and told her what had happened. She was of course scared and worried for me, and later that day she had set up an Uber account for me so that I didn’t have to walk home alone at night. A couple of months later, I had dinner with a group of friends and ordered an Uber home at night, knowing that I couldn’t walk home or take the subway home because I wouldn’t feel safe. When I sat in the Uber I got bombarded with questions, “how are you feeling, what did you do tonight, how old are you, do you have a boyfriend, are we driving to your apartment, are you sleeping alone tonight”. I tried not to think much of it, and gave him short and strategic answers. Suddenly he stopped the car and got out, he was gone for about 10 to 15 minutes. I went straight into survival mode, I shared my location with all of my friends, I called my boyfriend and had him on the phone, I took of my seatbelt incase I had to run, I gripped ahold of my alarm, and I searched my surroundings to see if there was anyone around or where I could go, just in case. Eventually he went back into the car and we drove home. I got home safe, however in those 10–15 minutes, I did not feel safe. Whether you walk home, take the train, or take a taxi, a woman will always bear the feeling of not feeling safe.

I could go on and on telling stories of when a man has made me uncomfortable scaling back to when I was only 11 years old. Nonetheless, as frightening as it may be, I have had to come to the upsetting truth of, this is how it is. I, as many other women, expect the minimum from men, to be treated with respect. However I believe that we as a society are not there yet, and won’t be for a long time. Women constantly have to think on their feet, we have to cover up, we have to avoid dark and empty streets, we have to cover our drinks, we have to share our locations, we can’t be “too friendly”, and so on. I pray that one day, women won’t have to do any of these things, that my future daughter will be able to walk home from a dinner with her friends one night and feel safe.

This night made me think of the Sexual Assault Awareness Month which is in April. Sexual Assault Awareness Month is an annual campaign to raise public awareness about sexual assault and educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence. Due to the experiences, I, my friends, and millions of others have had to endure, I hope that many women and men bring awareness and educate themselves on this topic. I have had to hear the sentence “but it’s not all men” hundreds of times. Of course not all men are sexual predators, and @scummymummies on Instagram said it best. “Looks like we have to break this down again, so how about this: there are about 500 species of shark. Only three eat people. So yeah, your chances of being eaten by a shark are pretty slim. But that doesn’t change the fact that the chance exists. Nor does it mean that if you go for a swim, and a massive fish starts swimming towards you, you can just go, “Oh well, statistically that’s probably not a great white, no need to panic.” Now imagine that you find yourself surrounded by sharks, not just when you’re swimming, but all the time. Yes, sharks have legs in this analogy, just go with it. Sure, most sharks are harmless! But literally every person you know has been hassled, attacked, or followed home by a shark. And/or forced to listen to a shark’s shit jokes about eating people like you, while all the other sharks in the room just laughed or ignored it. OK, it’s possible we’re taking the shark thing too far. But our hearts are broken today, and they are full of rage. Shout-out to the nice sharks, thanks very much for not eating us. But please stop telling us not to be afraid of the great whites.” With Sexual Assault Awareness Month just around the corner, I urge both men and women to educate themselves, and read up on the extremely important issue that effect millions day-to-day life.

Hopefully with time, the VoiceHER app will reach more women globally, and wherever you are, whatever time it is, you can go into the app and join or start a room. To be able to talk with other women about the experiences you have had to deal with, or if you are in an uncomfortable position, you will be able to talk to women and ask, what do I do? I’m not feeling safe, is there anyone I can talk to, or is anyone in the area?

--

--

VoiceHER

VoiceHER’s mission is to empower women and boost their self esteem by connecting them with professional female coaches. All in an audio-first safe space