Speaking up against harassment is the best thing to do – but, it’s only one of the first things to do.
Everybody asks you to speak up, but no one tells you what to expect after that.
The ones who didn’t want those horrible things to happen and the ones who didn’t even dream of it in their worst nightmares.
I am not writing this post for those who want to learn how to prevent such acts of crime; I am writing for the ones who are victims of such crimes.
The dust-storm may have settled at your workplace by now; but how will the dust in your mind settle? This ‘settled dust’ may have even formed a shape you don’t recognise now, a shape you didn’t expect.
But remember, this world isn’t fair. It never was.
The first step would always be to believe in yourself and trust your instincts. It may sound clichéd, but it’s probably the best thing you could do; because it’s better to trust your instincts than anyone else’s. And keep in mind the possibility – that you might have to fight this battle alone.
You are the only one who would know what you want and how you want to fight for justice. People would suggest their points of view – which they might do based on their moral beliefs, but you are not under any obligation to follow their advice. Do not seek their approval; only seek yours. Think about what you want, what needs to be done and what makes you feel safe, before taking any decision.
Do not forget- it doesn’t depend on how well or how bad you have been performing at your workplace. I have heard concerns from women like – “I am not performing very well at work, they might think it’s an excuse”. I have also heard comments such as, ‘only people who are not very good at their jobs – try to bring the famous and successful ones down’. It never should be a matter of what people might think – as they didn’t face the harassment, you did.
Understand that whatever happened was not your fault; never be afraid to speak up or ask for help.
People might remind you again and again – how brave it is that you have spoken up, as many do not, but don’t let those words steer your mind. You chose to speak up because it is necessary, because it is the right thing to do, and women who don’t find the courage to do the same aren’t any less brave.
Speaking up is not a thing to be celebrated – taking action is.
If someone is calling you brave for speaking up, they are just stressing on the underlying fact that they do not expect employees to speak up. Such words from a few people are enough to plant a seed in your head – that people who are not speaking up are doing it as they find it a convenient option, and not because they are not in a position to speak up – due to other reasons.
There will be people willing to listen to you, but just for the gossip that is served on a plate to them. If you decide to tell someone the details, do not confide in them thinking they will keep it to themselves. However, you cannot hold yourself responsible for the consequences if they spread the word against your wish. Speak to someone you are comfortable sharing the information with and trust completely. Always try to find and speak to those who can help you.
If you are the listener and not the victim, make sure you support the victim in every way possible, and avoid saying anything that may come off as victim-blaming.
Never let people tell you that you need to be “stronger” to talk about these issues and seek justice. Remember that you are already strong.
People may question you, “how did you allow such things to happen?”. You need to remember – you did not “allow” it to happen. Never be bothered by the thinking capacity of such individuals. You can explain your situation to them or you can try to correct their thought-process, but do not feel bad if you fail. After all, you have more significant battles to win.
You may not get proper counselling at your workplace. I would suggest you book your counselling sessions yourself from a third party.
Remember, people will be eager to settle the matter soon and move on. Nobody wants extra work or worries on their plates – despite all their public speeches and appearances. But, just because ‘the case is closed’ – doesn’t mean you got your closure.
Take ownership of the case, think of it as your responsibility to close it, and only you can decide the related course of action. Let that ‘dust’ settle; one grain at a time.
Never feel helpless, never let others sit on the front seat of this vehicle because they would just stop the engine when they would have other places to go and other things to handle.
Know what you want, believe that you will get justice, understand how to get justice and act on it. You have always been strong enough and you will be strong enough for this.
Sometimes, justice may be simple; sometimes, it could be harsh. Sometimes, justice could just be the closure of the gates, the end of the storm in your head.
You would want the world to be set right, and the offender’s behaviour to be corrected. You would want the offender not to repeat this so that the world becomes a little safer than what it used to be.
Do not feel sorry if that one offender doesn’t change his ways even after being punished heavily. The world isn’t a fair place, and all you can do is try to be the best version of yourself and make the world better in whatever little way you can.
And when you have done all you could; believe that the real battle is won.
Image source WomanToday.ph