With sexual harassment and assault on all of Hollywood's headlines, sports, politics and fitness, I was thinking a lot about this issue and many discussions about this lately.
In a recent Instagram story, I asked women in my community what they do everyday in an effort to stay safe and avoid sexual harassment and assault.
Within 24 hours I had 259 answers from women. Let it sink for a second: hundreds of women have come to me in all the ways that change their lives, trying to avoid harassment and assault. I will share some of the most common answers below.
This is not surprising given that 81 percent of women in the US face sexual harassment , and at least 33 percent of women worldwide will be subjected to sexual assault during their lifetime .
Note: While our article focuses on women's experiences and uses the language of men as attackers and women as victims, other marginalized populations at high risk of sexual violence share such experiences and change their lives accordingly. Remember that sexual violence affects people of all sexes and that migrants are at greater risk than gypsy people [3,4].
What is a rape program?
The concept of "rape program" is used to describe the conscious and subconscious ways women put restrictions on themselves and change their daily behavior as a result of their constant fear of sexual assault.
The organization of life according to this "rape program" takes a lot of energy and tends to start early: from an early age, women are taught the whole thing must to avoid attacking. Whether it is school, family or the media, attention is still focused on women's behavior – what is happening women and girls can and must do to avoid harm – instead of educating men and boys about how not to harass and offend women.
Well, what are some of the things women do every day to avoid harassment and assault? Here are some examples.
Women change where they are going and what they do
Women reported that they are moving away from situations where they simply do not feel safe, such as:
- Avoiding certain areas, including some metro stations or roads where it is more likely to be banned.
- Changing gyms because they walked there from a construction site where they were constantly harassed.
- Changing the gyms once they have reached the end of countless annotations about their bodies by the manager (these are often framed as "compliments" and women do not feel that someone will believe them if they talk up because they come from someone in power).
- Do not go to workouts where men train, going only to women who are taking lessons.
Women change their schedule
In order to avoid harassment and attack, they:
- Avoid making some shifts so they do not have to go out early in the morning.
- Try to go to the gym when it's not busy so the guys do not tell them in the weight room.
- Change the gym program to avoid another creepy member of the gym
- You do not plan night classes in college so you do not have to walk alone in the evening.
- Make sure you do not work late in the office when they know a particular male partner that makes them feel uncomfortable working too slowly so you do not have to be alone with him.
- Never go for a run when it's dark out, and they have to find times that are less convenient, but they feel "safer".
Women change what they wear
When it comes to their clothes, women in our community have mentioned:
- Avoid wearing tight or revealing clothes in the gym to avoid attracting attention.
- Wearing trousers over their fitness shorts when walking in the gym to reduce harassment.
- Choosing their clothes carefully when they know they have to walk on the street more than a few blocks.
- Wearing bulky clothes and putting their hair to make it less obvious that she is a woman.
Women are in constant vigilance
Among other things, women in our community told us that they would:
- Wear only the headphones in one ear to keep the sensitivity when you are in the public.
- Look at men who go to the street just in the eye with a very strict expression.
- Avoid eye contact with men on the road.
- Repeat for yourself three times what anyone wears by passing them on the road so that they can remember the recognition features.
- Call their partner / boyfriend / boyfriend anytime they walk at night and tell them about their location so they can ask for help if needed.
- Check out other lavatories in the lavatories to make sure no one is hiding there.
- Check the rear seat of the car before entering each time.
- Close the doors of their cars as they sit in the car.
- Park in well-lit areas and refuse to park and walk in dark areas.
- Never drink alcohol unless reliable friends are present.
- Never reach a lift with only one man.
- Ask a man manager to walk them in their car at night when they leave work.
- They constantly have their keys between their fingers or their pepper spray ready when they walk alone at night.
- Systemically draw exit plans wherever they are in case they need to escape from humans.
Women have their discomfort
There are many cases where women find it difficult to avoid being unsafe, for example:
- Changing their workouts to avoid having to fly at all costs or to boost when the gym is busy.
- Avoiding rest stops and gas stations at all costs when traveling alone, and often keeping their crap for hours until they reach a place that they feel safe using the toilet.
- Leaving the gym completely because they had bad experiences in three gyms in the series, choosing to work at home, though they can not train the way they would like.
- Wearing their headphones on their walk in the gym so they do not hear waterfalls.
- Smiling or laughing unwanted advances in order to block any possible threat.
- Changing routes if a car behind them does the same turns as they do.
- Spend money on taxis or ubers rather than walking, even though they would rather walk.
- Never tell taxi drivers their actual address.
- Stay calm about sexism, racism, or capitalism, when they do not, stay safe.
- It is forbidden to connect the rooms when traveling alone
- They lie down and say they have a friend who will accompany them later to their hotel, so the staff do not think they are alone.
Because that does not tell the whole story
Women spend the tons of precious time and energy changing where they go and what they do, changing their timetables, choosing carefully what they wear and bother – often at a high cost – and worse is that they are not even protected by the people who harass them and attacking them.
Worse still, the misconception that bullying occurs mainly on the road and that the attack occurs in a back alley in the hands of a stranger really prevents women from realizing that what has been done to them is harassment or assault.
Why; Most of the time, harassment and assault occur in the hands of someone we know.
Yes, the guys we know, those we consider to be "one of the good guys", what we can not imagine could hurt us, even children who have been crushed or related to (in the US the marriage with rape was not illegal until 1986 at federal level and many states did not reject marriage exemptions until 1996 or later) .
And many of the negative experiences that women will experience will not happen in a back alley, but in much more familiar environments: at work, outside with friends, at the gym or even at their homes. According to RAINN, 7 out of 10 rapes are perpetrated by someone who is known by the victim .
What can you do
You can read all this and feel frustrated. Perhaps he had no idea. Or maybe she feels very familiar. Regardless of this, you really have the opportunity to participate in the solution – even if you do not know where to start.
Much of the work should be to really grasp the reality of sexual harassment and assault, even if it means to radically change your understanding of these issues. To guide you on this, we have created a FREE two-day course on what you can do for sexual harassment and attack on the health and fitness industry.
When you sign up, we'll teach you:
- What to do if you assert or suspect sexual harassment.
- What to do if a woman trusted you to be harassed.
- What to do if you face personal harassment.
- How to determine behavior that looks OK (but it really is not).
- How to avoid the usual mistakes that men do (even when they think they are "getting it").
- How to create a safe environment for women.
- How can you help women and be part of the solution.
Now is the time to make a commitment to creating change.
Do you want to support women? Check out this FREE Course.
Women suffer sexual harassment and assault inside and outside the gym – and we need your help!
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- Stop harassing the road, 2018 Harassment and Attack Study, http://www.stopstreetharassment.org/resources/2018-national-sexual-abuse-report/
- World Health Organization, Violence Against Women: Key Facts, http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-women
- The Internal Domestic Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, an overview of the 2010 findings on victimization through sexual orientation, https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/cdc_nisvs_victimization_final-a.pdf
- James SE, Herman JL, Rankin S, Keisling M, Mottet L, Anafi M, The Report of 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Gender Equality, 2016, https://www.transequality.org/sites/default/files/docs/USTS-Full-Report-FINAL.PDF
- Bennice JA, Resik PA, Family rape: History, research and practice, Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, July 2003, https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=201457
- RAINN, The Perpetrators of Sexual Violence: Statistics, https://www.rainn.org/statistics/perpetrators-sexual-violence