I'm not really one to air dirty laundry online but the more I think about this the more important it is to write.
Last night I experienced sexual harassment by a so-called friend.
It's not the first time in my life by any stretch that this kind of scenario has played out. In fact, it doesn't even come close to my worst ever experience. But it's the first time I've handled it confidently. And most importantly, it's the first time people were on my side.
I woke up this morning absolutely terrified. Not because of what this creep had done, but because I thought my friends would think I was a liar. Do you know what my default reaction was to this kicking off last night? To say sorry.
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels
Yes. I apologised.
I apologised to my boyfriend for being dragged into the centre of this argument. I apologised to my friend who's birthday party we were at for it becoming a drama. I apologised to his sister-in-law because she was dragged into it at 3am when she had been at home looking after their 1 year old and not even at the party at all.
Why the hell did I apologise?
Why am I terrified of losing my friends?
Why does he get to call me a liar?
I'm lucky that my boyfriend wouldn't let me sweep this under the rug. I'm also lucky that I have friends who know and appreciate my integrity. I hold honesty in the highest regard and they know that.
It was a small incident that I would have brushed under the rug when I was younger. Now I have the strength in myself, the support network and most importantly the wider awareness of people around me to be able to call him out on his inappropriate behaviour. I can't put into words the relief I felt in being believed. No questions, no accusations, just trust. Trust, and support, and concern.
Sadly all I'm worthy of to him is a vague apologetic text that doesn't really mean anything at all. He doesn't think he's done anything wrong. Thankfully, we all know different.
It's a shame, but there's really no talking to someone like that. There's really no way of getting through. I actually hoped this would be a wake up call but it doesn't sound like that's happened. So he'll continue to be a creep and I apologise to the woman of Liverpool who may be subject to his unwelcome advances in the future. There I go again, apologising.
Update: he's since moved back home to Ireland so ladies of Liverpool are safe. Ladies of his home town, not so much.
I'm sharing this experience in the hope that someone who needs to sees that it's possible to stand up to sexual harassment. That it's ok, normal even, to feel like YOU are the one in the wrong. Just know that you're not. Whether you choose to act on it, or choose to let it slide; you are no more or less a victim of sexual harrassment. If you can't speak up now then I hope that you're assured enough in yourself to tackle it if, god forbid, there's a next time.
Sadly, I know I'm not the only woman who expects there to be a next time.
Eventually we'll change that. For now we have to keep speaking up.