9

These are HER stories

This collection of REAL experiences sheds light on the pervasive issue of women's safety, exploring the varied ways women navigate and resist violence, harassment and discrimination in their daily lives. We invite you to share and reflect on the urgent need for systemic change to ensure a safer world for all women.

Share your story

[email protected]

As a teenager, my mum told me that she almost threw me out the window as a two-month-old baby because I was crying non-stop. This story shocked me and left me with a strong fear of abandonment. I didn’t see my mother in the same way after that. When I was in Secondary 1, my classmate sexually assaulted me. He asked me if we wanted to do our homework together as we had to finish it by the end of the day. He took me to the rooftop of the building and as I was doing my homework, I realised that he was watching pornography. He asked me to watch it with him. Even though I rejected him, he persisted by stripping his pants and asking me to touch his genitals, saying that after all, we had to learn sexual education and he might as well teach me first. I felt so ashamed that it happened, I didn’t know who to trust with this information and it was a horrible feeling. As a 13-year-old girl, I felt I needed a lot of reassurance that not all guys are like that. My ideas about sex also changed, the experience made me curious about masturbation and what my body goes through during arousal. I didn’t know who to go to when I need help, especially when it comes to my private parts. I feel that women need to know how to speak up for themselves and stand firm on what they really believe in then men cannot leave you on shaky ground. It is important for women to have a say in their life, and to have control over what she does rather than just follow the stereotypes.
As a teenager, my mum told me that she almost threw me out the window as a two-month-old baby because I was crying non-stop. This story shocked me and left me with a strong fear of abandonment. I didn’t see my mother in the same way after that. When I was in Secondary 1, my classmate sexually assaulted me. He asked me if we wanted to do our homework together as we had to finish it by the end of the day. He took me to the rooftop of the building and as I was doing my homework, I realised that he was watching pornography. He asked me to watch it with him. Even though I rejected him, he persisted by stripping his pants and asking me to touch his genitals, saying that after all, we had to learn sexual education and he might as well teach me first. I felt so ashamed that it happened, I didn’t know who to trust with this information and it was a horrible feeling. As a 13-year-old girl, I felt I needed a lot of reassurance that not all guys are like that. My ideas about sex also changed, the experience made me curious about masturbation and what my body goes through during arousal. I didn’t know who to go to when I need help, especially when it comes to my private parts. I feel that women need to know how to speak up for themselves and stand firm on what they really believe in then men cannot leave you on shaky ground. It is important for women to have a say in their life, and to have control over what she does rather than just follow the stereotypes.

260642

Cheryl

Felicia

[email protected]

In my teenage years, a boy had been bothering me on Facebook, sending me odd messages and making lewd comments about my photos like "not even a little peek of a boob?" It made me feel uncomfortable and violated, so I blocked him. But that wasn't the end of it. I also decided to take action. I took a screenshot of his comments and posted them on my Facebook timeline, effectively "naming and shaming" him to my friends and followers. While most of my girlfriends showed me support, some of my guy friends didn't see it that way (that it was lewd and gross). They left comments defending the boy, saying things like "just take it as a compliment" and "Don't be a bitch...he didn't mean it in that way." I was shocked and hurt that they didn't understand the gravity of the situation. Although I didn't feel physically threatened by any of the boys, it made me second-guess my actions and took the post down a year later. It took me a while to come to terms with what had happened and accept that I was not wrong for calling out harassment online. It took me the same amount of time to forgive the boys who also 'did not know any better'. Their knee-jerk reaction was to protect their 'bro'. They did not understand that girls deserve better. That experience made me realize how important it is for women to feel safe and secure. Unfortunately, in my country, Malaysia, women are often told to be careful and take precautions to avoid danger. We are advised not to dress a certain way, not to go out alone at night unless we're accompanied by a man, and to be constantly aware of our surroundings. This constant worry for safety can be all-consuming and affects how brave we feel. When we are constantly told that we are not safe on our own, we start to believe that we cannot survive without constant protection. If a woman was brought up in a safe space and she believes she can be safe, she can aspire to do so many things and BE so many things, without the daily worry of 'can I' or 'should I' or 'now is not the right time’.
In my teenage years, a boy had been bothering me on Facebook, sending me odd messages and making lewd comments about my photos like "not even a little peek of a boob?" It made me feel uncomfortable and violated, so I blocked him. But that wasn't the end of it. I also decided to take action. I took a screenshot of his comments and posted them on my Facebook timeline, effectively "naming and shaming" him to my friends and followers. While most of my girlfriends showed me support, some of my guy friends didn't see it that way (that it was lewd and gross). They left comments defending the boy, saying things like "just take it as a compliment" and "Don't be a bitch...he didn't mean it in that way." I was shocked and hurt that they didn't understand the gravity of the situation. Although I didn't feel physically threatened by any of the boys, it made me second-guess my actions and took the post down a year later. It took me a while to come to terms with what had happened and accept that I was not wrong for calling out harassment online. It took me the same amount of time to forgive the boys who also 'did not know any better'. Their knee-jerk reaction was to protect their 'bro'. They did not understand that girls deserve better. That experience made me realize how important it is for women to feel safe and secure. Unfortunately, in my country, Malaysia, women are often told to be careful and take precautions to avoid danger. We are advised not to dress a certain way, not to go out alone at night unless we're accompanied by a man, and to be constantly aware of our surroundings. This constant worry for safety can be all-consuming and affects how brave we feel. When we are constantly told that we are not safe on our own, we start to believe that we cannot survive without constant protection. If a woman was brought up in a safe space and she believes she can be safe, she can aspire to do so many things and BE so many things, without the daily worry of 'can I' or 'should I' or 'now is not the right time’.

260644

Liravee

Teh

[email protected]

I've experienced open disrespect from many Singaporeans. To provide an example of the endemic and systemic nature of this phenomenon, my HDB neighbor took me to court for playing the piano during non-quiet hours. I am a HDB owner yet, he had the temerity to criticize me that I can't play the piano in my own home during the day or evening (during non-quiet hours as clearly stipulated by the HDB noise guidelines). He even went and complained to the grassroots about me, but no one in the grassroots openly called out his unreasonable behaviour or told him that I had every right to play the piano during non-quiet hours - in fact, a prominent male grassroots leader supported him in court against me with absolutely no evidence except hearsay. Thankfully, the judge had the good sense to call him out on that count and the fact that I was not doing anything wrong by playing the piano in my own home during non-quiet hours, and he lost. However, I would question a system that allows someone as unreasonable as my neighbour to drag me to court for $60 over his perceived injustice - if you look at noise guidelines it clearly shows that I was abiding by the stated hours. I question a system that allows someone to lead the grassroots with so little logic and common sense that he would go to court and expect his word to be taken at face value because of his standing as a leader of the grassroots. Overall, I feel less safe in Singapore than I did during the eight years I lived in America - even though when I lived there I was in a very unsafe neighbourhood, Crenshaw, and had to deal with some really rough people. The mental health issues that pervade our society stems from a lack of openness, honesty and common sense, and a strong need to maintain appearances and preserve 'face,' which is why I’ve decided to speak up and am using my real name to try and change this culture of shame and blame that has a felt psychological impact on so many people. I hope more survivors and victims of abuse (emotional and physical) will speak up and share their stories. The normalization of abuse is wrong. Abuse should never be endorsed or made light of. Victim blaming is a real and felt experience and has a powerful silencing effect. I am speaking up to change that dynamic. I believe that safety (emotional, physical and psychological safety) is important for everyone, regardless of gender or age. It is through safe connections with others that we can heal, grow, and find meaning and purpose in life. It is through sharing our stories and working towards systemic changes that we can create the foundation for healing and change in this society.
I've experienced open disrespect from many Singaporeans. To provide an example of the endemic and systemic nature of this phenomenon, my HDB neighbor took me to court for playing the piano during non-quiet hours. I am a HDB owner yet, he had the temerity to criticize me that I can't play the piano in my own home during the day or evening (during non-quiet hours as clearly stipulated by the HDB noise guidelines). He even went and complained to the grassroots about me, but no one in the grassroots openly called out his unreasonable behaviour or told him that I had every right to play the piano during non-quiet hours - in fact, a prominent male grassroots leader supported him in court against me with absolutely no evidence except hearsay. Thankfully, the judge had the good sense to call him out on that count and the fact that I was not doing anything wrong by playing the piano in my own home during non-quiet hours, and he lost. However, I would question a system that allows someone as unreasonable as my neighbour to drag me to court for $60 over his perceived injustice - if you look at noise guidelines it clearly shows that I was abiding by the stated hours. I question a system that allows someone to lead the grassroots with so little logic and common sense that he would go to court and expect his word to be taken at face value because of his standing as a leader of the grassroots. Overall, I feel less safe in Singapore than I did during the eight years I lived in America - even though when I lived there I was in a very unsafe neighbourhood, Crenshaw, and had to deal with some really rough people. The mental health issues that pervade our society stems from a lack of openness, honesty and common sense, and a strong need to maintain appearances and preserve 'face,' which is why I’ve decided to speak up and am using my real name to try and change this culture of shame and blame that has a felt psychological impact on so many people. I hope more survivors and victims of abuse (emotional and physical) will speak up and share their stories. The normalization of abuse is wrong. Abuse should never be endorsed or made light of. Victim blaming is a real and felt experience and has a powerful silencing effect. I am speaking up to change that dynamic. I believe that safety (emotional, physical and psychological safety) is important for everyone, regardless of gender or age. It is through safe connections with others that we can heal, grow, and find meaning and purpose in life. It is through sharing our stories and working towards systemic changes that we can create the foundation for healing and change in this society.

260641

Deborah

Lee

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[email protected]

As a resident of the Philippines, I have experienced numerous instances where my safety was threatened, especially in situations where I found myself in a room full of male writers. Despite being a published author, I am often asked if writing is all I do in my life, while I notice that men are not subjected to the same question. I wish that women could feel confident in themselves and never have to prove their worth beyond their profession. Reflecting on my experiences, I have come to realize the importance of feeling safe as a woman. When our safety is threatened, whether physically or emotionally, it can be difficult to feel confident and thrive in our personal and professional lives. I have had to work on myself to remind myself that I am enough, despite what others may think or say. To create a safer and more accepting society, we need to stop questioning women's worth and accept them as they are. Living in Manila, I know that it is still a macho society, but I believe that women speaking up about their experiences can lead to positive change. When we share our stories, we can help educate men on how to treat us better and make our society a safer and more accepting environment for women. I published my own self-help books to help others overcome their own personal challenges. As a woman, I believe that feeling safe and accepted is essential for our personal growth and success. When we can live our lives without fear, we can fully embrace our passions and contribute to society in meaningful ways.

As a resident of the Philippines, I have experienced numerous instances where my safety was threatened, especially in situations where I found myself in a room full of male writers. Despite being a published author, I am often asked if writing is all I do in my life, while I notice that men are not subjected to the same question. I wish that women could feel confident in themselves and never have to prove their worth beyond their profession. Reflecting on my experiences, I have come to realize the importance of feeling safe as a woman. When our safety is threatened, whether physically or emotionally, it can be difficult to feel confident and thrive in our personal and professional lives. I have had to work on myself to remind myself that I am enough, despite what others may think or say. To create a safer and more accepting society, we need to stop questioning women's worth and accept them as they are. Living in Manila, I know that it is still a macho society, but I believe that women speaking up about their experiences can lead to positive change. When we share our stories, we can help educate men on how to treat us better and make our society a safer and more accepting environment for women. I published my own self-help books to help others overcome their own personal challenges. As a woman, I believe that feeling safe and accepted is essential for our personal growth and success. When we can live our lives without fear, we can fully embrace our passions and contribute to society in meaningful ways.

260237

Sienna

[email protected]

I lived in a small town as a young woman. I had just finished my shift at a local cafe and was walking home late at night. As I walked, I noticed a man following me. At first, I thought it was just a coincidence, but soon I realized he was getting closer and closer. I started to feel scared and decided to cross the street to get away from the man. But the man followed me and started to make lewd comments. My heart started racing and I knew I was in trouble. I tried to call the police, but my phone was dead. Suddenly, another man appeared on the scene. He asked me if I was okay, and I told him what was happening. The man then confronted the attacker, and the two started to fight. I ran away as fast as I could, looking back over my shoulder to make sure the man wasn't following me. I was grateful to the stranger who had come to my rescue. I knew that I had been lucky that night, but it made me realize how important it was to be aware of my surroundings and to have a plan in case of an emergency. I promised myself that I would always be more careful and more vigilant in the future. From that night on, I always made sure I walked in well-lit areas and carried a charged phone with me. I also signed up for self-defence classes to learn how to protect myself in case of an attack. While I never forgot the fear I felt that night, I was proud of myself for taking steps to increase my safety and control over my own life.

I lived in a small town as a young woman. I had just finished my shift at a local cafe and was walking home late at night. As I walked, I noticed a man following me. At first, I thought it was just a coincidence, but soon I realized he was getting closer and closer. I started to feel scared and decided to cross the street to get away from the man. But the man followed me and started to make lewd comments. My heart started racing and I knew I was in trouble. I tried to call the police, but my phone was dead. Suddenly, another man appeared on the scene. He asked me if I was okay, and I told him what was happening. The man then confronted the attacker, and the two started to fight. I ran away as fast as I could, looking back over my shoulder to make sure the man wasn't following me. I was grateful to the stranger who had come to my rescue. I knew that I had been lucky that night, but it made me realize how important it was to be aware of my surroundings and to have a plan in case of an emergency. I promised myself that I would always be more careful and more vigilant in the future. From that night on, I always made sure I walked in well-lit areas and carried a charged phone with me. I also signed up for self-defence classes to learn how to protect myself in case of an attack. While I never forgot the fear I felt that night, I was proud of myself for taking steps to increase my safety and control over my own life.

260309

Emily

[email protected]

My ex-husband physically assaulted me on January 25th 2021 to the point where I was left with multiple hematomas all over my head, neck, and back. The aftermath was made even worse when I sought support from members of my ex-church, only to be met with insensitivity and church members who showed empathy and support for my abuser. The thoughtless and insensitive things that the clergy (and many others) said to me made it really hard for me to trust them and open myself up to them. In the aftermath of this experience, I felt really confused and was in a state of self-blame and shock. I thought I had finally caused the other shoe to drop. I was in disbelief that my marriage could end in such a horrible and brutal way, and that so many people around me made light of what I had been through and treated me like I was making a big deal out of nothing. When my abuser left Singapore to return to America where he's from (I had served him his divorce papers), they sent him off at the airport while I was left alone. It really hurt my spirit and could have completely broken me had I not clung to my faith. I started to isolate myself and read extensively about emotional abuse and gaslighting - this helped me to gain a new perspective, understand the nuances of emotional abuse, gaslighting and other important things like trauma bonding and cycles of abuse and boundary setting and the mind-body connection; this helped me so much with my healing process. I've since also undergone EMDR therapy to work through PTSD. Today, I continue with sessions with my psychotherapist twice a month to keep myself going on my healing journey and to develop increasing self-awareness. I share this openly because I want people to know that seeking therapy is okay and sometimes really necessary for your mental and emotional health. It is not an indication of weakness nor is it something you should be ashamed about or judged for. I know my experience of being silenced and shamed as a victim of abuse is not unique in Singapore, where the safety of women is often questionable, and where marital infidelity is normalized and accepted by many women, in exchange for keeping up the facade of a "respectable" marriage and perhaps financial security. Women are expected to stay small and be subservient and tolerate disrespect in many different social contexts - if and when you do speak up, any show of emotion (or your humanity) detracts from your credibility. Emotions, all of them, even anger, are not inherently bad, what matters is how we use these emotions and act upon them. But somehow we are being told by myriad voices every day to erase it from our identity. For example, a pastor told me that I shouldn't be angry when I was justifiably angry and that it would harm me. This is also not okay. People have shared with me their own stories of abuse and assault, so I know I'm not alone. However, I do believe that more attention needs to be given to addressing the endemic and systemic issues which perpetuate systemic cycles of trauma, abuse and silence and mental, emotional and psychological violence.

My ex-husband physically assaulted me on January 25th 2021 to the point where I was left with multiple hematomas all over my head, neck, and back. The aftermath was made even worse when I sought support from members of my ex-church, only to be met with insensitivity and church members who showed empathy and support for my abuser. The thoughtless and insensitive things that the clergy (and many others) said to me made it really hard for me to trust them and open myself up to them. In the aftermath of this experience, I felt really confused and was in a state of self-blame and shock. I thought I had finally caused the other shoe to drop. I was in disbelief that my marriage could end in such a horrible and brutal way, and that so many people around me made light of what I had been through and treated me like I was making a big deal out of nothing. When my abuser left Singapore to return to America where he's from (I had served him his divorce papers), they sent him off at the airport while I was left alone. It really hurt my spirit and could have completely broken me had I not clung to my faith. I started to isolate myself and read extensively about emotional abuse and gaslighting - this helped me to gain a new perspective, understand the nuances of emotional abuse, gaslighting and other important things like trauma bonding and cycles of abuse and boundary setting and the mind-body connection; this helped me so much with my healing process. I've since also undergone EMDR therapy to work through PTSD. Today, I continue with sessions with my psychotherapist twice a month to keep myself going on my healing journey and to develop increasing self-awareness. I share this openly because I want people to know that seeking therapy is okay and sometimes really necessary for your mental and emotional health. It is not an indication of weakness nor is it something you should be ashamed about or judged for. I know my experience of being silenced and shamed as a victim of abuse is not unique in Singapore, where the safety of women is often questionable, and where marital infidelity is normalized and accepted by many women, in exchange for keeping up the facade of a "respectable" marriage and perhaps financial security. Women are expected to stay small and be subservient and tolerate disrespect in many different social contexts - if and when you do speak up, any show of emotion (or your humanity) detracts from your credibility. Emotions, all of them, even anger, are not inherently bad, what matters is how we use these emotions and act upon them. But somehow we are being told by myriad voices every day to erase it from our identity. For example, a pastor told me that I shouldn't be angry when I was justifiably angry and that it would harm me. This is also not okay. People have shared with me their own stories of abuse and assault, so I know I'm not alone. However, I do believe that more attention needs to be given to addressing the endemic and systemic issues which perpetuate systemic cycles of trauma, abuse and silence and mental, emotional and psychological violence.

260452

Deborah

[email protected]

I've experienced open disrespect from many Singaporeans. To provide an example of the endemic and systemic nature of this phenomenon, my HDB neighbor took me to court for playing the piano during non-quiet hours. I am a HDB owner yet, he had the temerity to criticize me that I can't play the piano in my own home during the day or evening (during non-quiet hours as clearly stipulated by the HDB noise guidelines). He even went and complained to the grassroots about me, but no one in the grassroots openly called out his unreasonable behaviour or told him that I had every right to play the piano during non-quiet hours - in fact, a prominent male grassroots leader supported him in court against me with absolutely no evidence except hearsay. Thankfully, the judge had the good sense to call him out on that count and the fact that I was not doing anything wrong by playing the piano in my own home during non-quiet hours, and he lost. However, I would question a system that allows someone as unreasonable as my neighbour to drag me to court for $60 over his perceived injustice - if you look at noise guidelines it clearly shows that I was abiding by the stated hours. I question a system that allows someone to lead the grassroots with so little logic and common sense that he would go to court and expect his word to be taken at face value because of his standing as a leader of the grassroots. Overall, I feel less safe in Singapore than I did during the eight years I lived in America - even though when I lived there I was in a very unsafe neighbourhood, Crenshaw, and had to deal with some really rough people. The mental health issues that pervade our society stems from a lack of openness, honesty and common sense, and a strong need to maintain appearances and preserve 'face,' which is why I’ve decided to speak up and am using my real name to try and change this culture of shame and blame that has a felt psychological impact on so many people. I hope more survivors and victims of abuse (emotional and physical) will speak up and share their stories. The normalization of abuse is wrong. Abuse should never be endorsed or made light of. Victim blaming is a real and felt experience and has a powerful silencing effect. I am speaking up to change that dynamic. I believe that safety (emotional, physical and psychological safety) is important for everyone, regardless of gender or age. It is through safe connections with others that we can heal, grow, and find meaning and purpose in life. It is through sharing our stories and working towards systemic changes that we can create the foundation for healing and change in this society.

I've experienced open disrespect from many Singaporeans. To provide an example of the endemic and systemic nature of this phenomenon, my HDB neighbor took me to court for playing the piano during non-quiet hours. I am a HDB owner yet, he had the temerity to criticize me that I can't play the piano in my own home during the day or evening (during non-quiet hours as clearly stipulated by the HDB noise guidelines). He even went and complained to the grassroots about me, but no one in the grassroots openly called out his unreasonable behaviour or told him that I had every right to play the piano during non-quiet hours - in fact, a prominent male grassroots leader supported him in court against me with absolutely no evidence except hearsay. Thankfully, the judge had the good sense to call him out on that count and the fact that I was not doing anything wrong by playing the piano in my own home during non-quiet hours, and he lost. However, I would question a system that allows someone as unreasonable as my neighbour to drag me to court for $60 over his perceived injustice - if you look at noise guidelines it clearly shows that I was abiding by the stated hours. I question a system that allows someone to lead the grassroots with so little logic and common sense that he would go to court and expect his word to be taken at face value because of his standing as a leader of the grassroots. Overall, I feel less safe in Singapore than I did during the eight years I lived in America - even though when I lived there I was in a very unsafe neighbourhood, Crenshaw, and had to deal with some really rough people. The mental health issues that pervade our society stems from a lack of openness, honesty and common sense, and a strong need to maintain appearances and preserve 'face,' which is why I’ve decided to speak up and am using my real name to try and change this culture of shame and blame that has a felt psychological impact on so many people. I hope more survivors and victims of abuse (emotional and physical) will speak up and share their stories. The normalization of abuse is wrong. Abuse should never be endorsed or made light of. Victim blaming is a real and felt experience and has a powerful silencing effect. I am speaking up to change that dynamic. I believe that safety (emotional, physical and psychological safety) is important for everyone, regardless of gender or age. It is through safe connections with others that we can heal, grow, and find meaning and purpose in life. It is through sharing our stories and working towards systemic changes that we can create the foundation for healing and change in this society.

260641

Deborah

[email protected]

As a teenager, my mum told me that she almost threw me out the window as a two-month-old baby because I was crying non-stop. This story shocked me and left me with a strong fear of abandonment. I didn’t see my mother in the same way after that. When I was in Secondary 1, my classmate sexually assaulted me. He asked me if we wanted to do our homework together as we had to finish it by the end of the day. He took me to the rooftop of the building and as I was doing my homework, I realised that he was watching pornography. He asked me to watch it with him. Even though I rejected him, he persisted by stripping his pants and asking me to touch his genitals, saying that after all, we had to learn sexual education and he might as well teach me first. I felt so ashamed that it happened, I didn’t know who to trust with this information and it was a horrible feeling. As a 13-year-old girl, I felt I needed a lot of reassurance that not all guys are like that. My ideas about sex also changed, the experience made me curious about masturbation and what my body goes through during arousal. I didn’t know who to go to when I need help, especially when it comes to my private parts. I feel that women need to know how to speak up for themselves and stand firm on what they really believe in then men cannot leave you on shaky ground. It is important for women to have a say in their life, and to have control over what she does rather than just follow the stereotypes.

As a teenager, my mum told me that she almost threw me out the window as a two-month-old baby because I was crying non-stop. This story shocked me and left me with a strong fear of abandonment. I didn’t see my mother in the same way after that. When I was in Secondary 1, my classmate sexually assaulted me. He asked me if we wanted to do our homework together as we had to finish it by the end of the day. He took me to the rooftop of the building and as I was doing my homework, I realised that he was watching pornography. He asked me to watch it with him. Even though I rejected him, he persisted by stripping his pants and asking me to touch his genitals, saying that after all, we had to learn sexual education and he might as well teach me first. I felt so ashamed that it happened, I didn’t know who to trust with this information and it was a horrible feeling. As a 13-year-old girl, I felt I needed a lot of reassurance that not all guys are like that. My ideas about sex also changed, the experience made me curious about masturbation and what my body goes through during arousal. I didn’t know who to go to when I need help, especially when it comes to my private parts. I feel that women need to know how to speak up for themselves and stand firm on what they really believe in then men cannot leave you on shaky ground. It is important for women to have a say in their life, and to have control over what she does rather than just follow the stereotypes.

260642

Cheryl

[email protected]

In my teenage years, a boy had been bothering me on Facebook, sending me odd messages and making lewd comments about my photos like "not even a little peek of a boob?" It made me feel uncomfortable and violated, so I blocked him. But that wasn't the end of it. I also decided to take action. I took a screenshot of his comments and posted them on my Facebook timeline, effectively "naming and shaming" him to my friends and followers. While most of my girlfriends showed me support, some of my guy friends didn't see it that way (that it was lewd and gross). They left comments defending the boy, saying things like "just take it as a compliment" and "Don't be a bitch...he didn't mean it in that way." I was shocked and hurt that they didn't understand the gravity of the situation. Although I didn't feel physically threatened by any of the boys, it made me second-guess my actions and took the post down a year later. It took me a while to come to terms with what had happened and accept that I was not wrong for calling out harassment online. It took me the same amount of time to forgive the boys who also 'did not know any better'. Their knee-jerk reaction was to protect their 'bro'. They did not understand that girls deserve better. That experience made me realize how important it is for women to feel safe and secure. Unfortunately, in my country, Malaysia, women are often told to be careful and take precautions to avoid danger. We are advised not to dress a certain way, not to go out alone at night unless we're accompanied by a man, and to be constantly aware of our surroundings. This constant worry for safety can be all-consuming and affects how brave we feel. When we are constantly told that we are not safe on our own, we start to believe that we cannot survive without constant protection. If a woman was brought up in a safe space and she believes she can be safe, she can aspire to do so many things and BE so many things, without the daily worry of 'can I' or 'should I' or 'now is not the right time’.

In my teenage years, a boy had been bothering me on Facebook, sending me odd messages and making lewd comments about my photos like "not even a little peek of a boob?" It made me feel uncomfortable and violated, so I blocked him. But that wasn't the end of it. I also decided to take action. I took a screenshot of his comments and posted them on my Facebook timeline, effectively "naming and shaming" him to my friends and followers. While most of my girlfriends showed me support, some of my guy friends didn't see it that way (that it was lewd and gross). They left comments defending the boy, saying things like "just take it as a compliment" and "Don't be a bitch...he didn't mean it in that way." I was shocked and hurt that they didn't understand the gravity of the situation. Although I didn't feel physically threatened by any of the boys, it made me second-guess my actions and took the post down a year later. It took me a while to come to terms with what had happened and accept that I was not wrong for calling out harassment online. It took me the same amount of time to forgive the boys who also 'did not know any better'. Their knee-jerk reaction was to protect their 'bro'. They did not understand that girls deserve better. That experience made me realize how important it is for women to feel safe and secure. Unfortunately, in my country, Malaysia, women are often told to be careful and take precautions to avoid danger. We are advised not to dress a certain way, not to go out alone at night unless we're accompanied by a man, and to be constantly aware of our surroundings. This constant worry for safety can be all-consuming and affects how brave we feel. When we are constantly told that we are not safe on our own, we start to believe that we cannot survive without constant protection. If a woman was brought up in a safe space and she believes she can be safe, she can aspire to do so many things and BE so many things, without the daily worry of 'can I' or 'should I' or 'now is not the right time’.

260644

Liravee

[email protected]

When I was in primary school, an elderly man followed me all the way to my flat. I got out on the 9th floor and had to walk up the stairs to the 10th floor, and my unit was right at the end - quite a distance away. I felt threatened as I could hear his footsteps just behind me, following me all the way. My heart was beating fast, and I was scared. I rang the doorbell for my mum, and the man told her he was collecting newspapers. My mum replied that we did not have any. As a result of this experience, I avoided taking lifts with male strangers for a while. Despite this, I generally feel that women are safe in my city and country, Singapore. Feeling safe is a human right that should be accessible to everyone. However, young people need to be educated on essential safety awareness as Singapore is considered too safe, and people may not be aware of potential dangers.

When I was in primary school, an elderly man followed me all the way to my flat. I got out on the 9th floor and had to walk up the stairs to the 10th floor, and my unit was right at the end - quite a distance away. I felt threatened as I could hear his footsteps just behind me, following me all the way. My heart was beating fast, and I was scared. I rang the doorbell for my mum, and the man told her he was collecting newspapers. My mum replied that we did not have any. As a result of this experience, I avoided taking lifts with male strangers for a while. Despite this, I generally feel that women are safe in my city and country, Singapore. Feeling safe is a human right that should be accessible to everyone. However, young people need to be educated on essential safety awareness as Singapore is considered too safe, and people may not be aware of potential dangers.

260897

Mya

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I was a victim of sexual harassment by a senior while working in a small town in MP. The perpetrator was a high-level bureaucrat who even threatened my life. In despair, I consumed poison and was rushed to the hospital. The local police recorded my statement and the entire process was also recorded. The following day, to my horror, I discovered that someone had uploaded the recording of my statement to YouTube without my knowledge or consent. This revelation shattered my life. I faced the worst kind of hatred and discrimination from my colleagues at work and even some people who I considered friends. Some of them went as far as sharing the content on their social media profiles. As a teacher, it's especially painful to know that my students have watched that video. To make matters worse, the video was circulated just before my promotion at work was considered, deliberately to blacken my image. I live in constant fear and have lost all faith in people. I even had to withdraw my complaint as I couldn't trust anyone to protect me. It's disheartening to know that society is biased towards women, and we are judged harshly if we protest against any atrocity. It's our basic human right to speak up and demand justice. The Indian constitution guarantees equality to all, but being recorded by unauthorised people and having that recording circulated on social media is not only a violation of our rights but also makes life unbearable.

I was a victim of sexual harassment by a senior while working in a small town in MP. The perpetrator was a high-level bureaucrat who even threatened my life. In despair, I consumed poison and was rushed to the hospital. The local police recorded my statement and the entire process was also recorded. The following day, to my horror, I discovered that someone had uploaded the recording of my statement to YouTube without my knowledge or consent. This revelation shattered my life. I faced the worst kind of hatred and discrimination from my colleagues at work and even some people who I considered friends. Some of them went as far as sharing the content on their social media profiles. As a teacher, it's especially painful to know that my students have watched that video. To make matters worse, the video was circulated just before my promotion at work was considered, deliberately to blacken my image. I live in constant fear and have lost all faith in people. I even had to withdraw my complaint as I couldn't trust anyone to protect me. It's disheartening to know that society is biased towards women, and we are judged harshly if we protest against any atrocity. It's our basic human right to speak up and demand justice. The Indian constitution guarantees equality to all, but being recorded by unauthorised people and having that recording circulated on social media is not only a violation of our rights but also makes life unbearable.

265967

Soma

[email protected]

I have been sexually harassed not once, but many times and in different places: on the bus, train, and at the bus station, in crowded places. Once, while waiting for someone to pick me up, a man commented on my bum, saying "Such a big bum, sexy." I was wearing a long skirt with a shirt and a headscarf. He whispered near my ear and walked away, but not before grinning at me. Another time, I was on a packed bus when someone grabbed my bum while walking down because he reached his stop. Thirdly, on a crowded train, a man stood in front of me. When the train stopped at a station, he pushed himself forward so that his chest met with mine. Then he smiled and said sorry. Then it happened again. Before it happened for the third time, I decided to alight at the next station, scared that he might follow me. I felt threatened. Once I was wearing revealing clothes at home, and a woman told me I was harassed because of how I dressed. I wear revealing clothes only at home, a place where I feel safe. She said that there are men in the house too. My behaviour has changed. I feel the need to dress more conservatively. My belief has also changed. I think that as women, we not only need to be scared of how men see us but women too. My belief is that all these stupid rules that women have to follow were made by women who put men's needs first. But these rules are annoying, and they don't help to address the safety issues that women face daily. It is still considered safe in my city if you know how to protect yourself. Don't walk alone at night or during the day. For me, women are not safe as long as there are men who think that women who are walking around and strong women are public property. The law needs to be harsher on these predators. There should be one hard and cruel punishment for public viewing. The public needs to be educated that the predator is at fault, not the victim. Women-only buses, parking, and trains are necessary. We need to be one team. Shame on those men who take these facilities meant for women. Shame on the women too who encourage men to take these facilities, such as women-only parking. Women don't need to think about the repercussions. Once a man threatens your safety, just scream out for help. Point out the predator and put that man to shame. Don't think of yourself as a victim because of this or that. Don't blame yourself.

I have been sexually harassed not once, but many times and in different places: on the bus, train, and at the bus station, in crowded places. Once, while waiting for someone to pick me up, a man commented on my bum, saying "Such a big bum, sexy." I was wearing a long skirt with a shirt and a headscarf. He whispered near my ear and walked away, but not before grinning at me. Another time, I was on a packed bus when someone grabbed my bum while walking down because he reached his stop. Thirdly, on a crowded train, a man stood in front of me. When the train stopped at a station, he pushed himself forward so that his chest met with mine. Then he smiled and said sorry. Then it happened again. Before it happened for the third time, I decided to alight at the next station, scared that he might follow me. I felt threatened. Once I was wearing revealing clothes at home, and a woman told me I was harassed because of how I dressed. I wear revealing clothes only at home, a place where I feel safe. She said that there are men in the house too. My behaviour has changed. I feel the need to dress more conservatively. My belief has also changed. I think that as women, we not only need to be scared of how men see us but women too. My belief is that all these stupid rules that women have to follow were made by women who put men's needs first. But these rules are annoying, and they don't help to address the safety issues that women face daily. It is still considered safe in my city if you know how to protect yourself. Don't walk alone at night or during the day. For me, women are not safe as long as there are men who think that women who are walking around and strong women are public property. The law needs to be harsher on these predators. There should be one hard and cruel punishment for public viewing. The public needs to be educated that the predator is at fault, not the victim. Women-only buses, parking, and trains are necessary. We need to be one team. Shame on those men who take these facilities meant for women. Shame on the women too who encourage men to take these facilities, such as women-only parking. Women don't need to think about the repercussions. Once a man threatens your safety, just scream out for help. Point out the predator and put that man to shame. Don't think of yourself as a victim because of this or that. Don't blame yourself.

265983

Min

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