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Pinays Share True Stories Of When They Were Sexually Harassed

It could be a boyfriend, a trusted friend, a mentor, or even a family member.
PHOTO: istockphoto

If you're a woman, you probably have at least one memory of being sexually harassed. The unfortunate thing is, it's not always done by a stranger. It could be a boyfriend, a trusted friend, a mentor, or even a family member.

Ahead are harrowing stories of Pinays who've experienced sexual harassment: 

Pam:

"It was the early 2000s, and he was my boyfriend. We had dinner, and I wanted him to drive me home, but he insisted on taking me to his house instead. He told me he had something to give me. [I told him to give it to me some other day, but he wanted to give it to me tonight. He took me to his room, and we stopped talking.] I don't remember how but I was suddenly on the couch, and he was on me. My shirt was up, and my bra was undone, and his hands and face were on my breasts.

I wasn't in my body anymore; I was floating above us, watching what was happening, the girl who always said she wouldn't let anyone grope her without her consent, who thought she'd fight like hell if anyone touched her in ways she didn't want to be touched, that same girl was being mauled and she was not doing anything about it. She was frozen.

He stopped when he realized I had stopped moving, that I had given up on trying to push him away. He stopped and started crying, apologizing.

"Take me home," was all I said. I was ice cold.

There was no Uber or Grab back then; I needed the fucker to take me home. In the car, he tried to hold my hand, but my hand was limp. I stared out the window, wishing I were somewhere else. Since then, that moment has signaled the death of almost every relationship. Me in a car with them, wishing I were somewhere else. I leaped out of the car as soon as we reached my street and fled to the safety of my house. He called as soon as he got home. Still crying and apologizing.

I asked him, "Do you think that just because a girl is your girlfriend you have the right to touch her anytime you want?" 

I don't remember his reply. I remember him threatening to kill himself if I didn't forgive him. I remember telling him I would tell his mother that he was threatening suicide. He stopped. And I refused to see him again.

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For a long time, the voices in my head [took over]: It's your fault for letting it happen. But he was your boyfriend. It wasn't even rape. They were just boobs.

Stupid voices that tried to diminish the attack, echoing a society that always finds ways to blame the victim, to excuse the inexcusable, to silence those who should speak up and stand up.

It's been over 15 years. I am done being quiet. #MeToo. And there is no shame in it. The shame is theirs." 

Jewel:

"I must have been 14. I'm not sure anymore. I was at Megamall with my family... As they did their shopping, I walked around on my own, browsing the shelves as one does. I crouched in front of one shelf, perusing the titles. A guy whose face I never even saw, reached in front of me to grab a book. As he lifted his arm to bring the book to him, he grazed my boobs—from under and across.

And there was definitely enough space between me and the shelf (and my barely-there boobs) for him to grab a book without fucking touching me. It was intentional.

But I thought maybe it wasn't? I was young, timid, unsure, but ultimately uncomfortable. I took a few steps away and went over to another shelf. The guy followed and did it again. I moved again. And again, it happened. I wish I could tell you I told him off. I wish I could say I ran to my mom and told on him, and she freaked out and called a guard and he was detained and eventually arrested. I wish there was a satisfying end to this story but there isn't.

[Instead], I quietly walked away, never once even seeing guy's face. [Truthfully, I was too scared to look.] I looked for my mom and pretended like nothing happened. I was shaken, but also in denial, [only comforted by the thought that he wasn't going to try anything for sure when he saw me with my mom]. This was almost two decades ago, and it still haunts me from time to time. I have never told anybody this. Literally, no one, not even anonymously on the internet. That is, until today. And I'm glad I'm doing this now. Friends who have gathered the courage to speak out gave me the courage to do the same and I thank all of you beautiful people. I know there are stories far worse than mine but... Why do I even have this story to tell in the first place? Why do so many of us? Well, I guess that's it. Thanks for reading this far down. Yep. #MeToo.

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Camyl:

#MeToo. Ilang beses nangyari sa pampublikong sasakyansa MRT, sa bus, sa jeep. May lalaking nakatayo sa likod o harap ko, pasimpleng dinidikit ang kamay niya sa katawan kohita, likod, tiyan, dibdib. Paminsan, lalung lalo na kapag nasa MRT nang rush hour at hindi na ako nakahabol sa women-only train, tiyak 'yan na may lalaking nakatayo sa likod ko na mismong pundya niya ang ididikit sa akin.

Once, at The Mall in Washington D.C., when a seven-foot-tall man brazenly walked by and firmly grabbed my ass in his large hand. He didn't even look at me. Just walked by, grabbed, then walked on. I was 19. It was my first trip on foreign soil, and I froze on the spot because I was too scared to say or do anything. I used that incident later as a funny anecdote for my first trip in the US, forcibly laughing off the fear and shame I had felt the moment it happened.

Hindi ako makapag-jogging sa lugar namin dahil nang ginawa ko ito minsan, naranasan kong sundan ako ng isang mamang hindi ko kilala. Nung nakatira din ako sa Makati, madalang akong lumabas ng apartment mag-isa dahil sa takot kong ma-harrass.

I've fortunately never experienced graver instances of sexual harassment or assault, but that fear has always been there: that a man may cause me harm just because I am a woman.

Imbis na sabihan ang mga kababaihan na ibahin ang pananamit nila, bakit hindi natin sabihan ang mga kalalakihan na pagingatan nila ang pakikitungo nila sa atin?  Imbis na sabihing "Mag-ingat siya, ang iksi-iksi pa naman ng shorts niya, siguradong mamanyakin siya," bakit hindi na lang, "Matuto tayong respetuhin ang ibang tao, at 'wag mambastos dahil lang sa mga sekswal na pagnanais mo." Hindi pananamit niya ang nag-udyok sa iyo na manilip, "mang-manyak", o mang-rape. Sarili mong desisyon ito.

I have a daughter and will soon have a son. I cannot shield them from the world, but we can change this culture of victim-blaming, of a person's powerlessness against her (or his) aggressors. People are being harassed and assaulted everywhere, not just in the workplace, not just among strangers. It [shouldn't be] normal for a woman to feel unsafe in her own neighborhood, on her commute home from work, in a room full of men, in a public park while on vacation. It can happen to anyone. It has happened to me."

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Anonymous:

"Me, too. Even as a young girl, there was always unwanted, unwelcome male attention: from my yaya's husband stroking my thighs when he was at our house to visit her, to the constant catcalling of construction workers when I walk and cross streets, to the leering eyes of creepy old men in restaurants. I'm lucky it never got worse than these, but every day, around the world, women are targeted and harassed. I want my daughter to grow up in a world that protects and respects women. If you have sons, teach them that women are not objects or playthings. Don't objectify women in your conversations at home. Fathers, be good examples and show your sons how to treasure and appreciate women by how you treat your wife and all the women around you. #MeToo"

Carla:

"Posting this is scaring the crap out of me. I never talk about it. It’s hard to. It's too real, too embarrassing, too personal. For so long, I've wrestled with the shame and anger, but I'm learning that those belong to those who made this happen...To my sisters who've gone first and inspired me to share my horror stories, here's to letting them know that we don't forget. 

I was 23. I was attending my film mentor's birthday at Tomato Kick, Tomas Morato. I went over to the smoking area for a cigarette where an actor was smoking, too. He started asking me questions, to which I tried to politely answer. Then he [began] to tell me he loved me, whispering that he’d like to urinate on me, and eventually he [came] over to kiss me before leaving because it was (his) then-girlfriend’s birthday.

When I tried to tell people about it, they laughed and asked me if I was making it up. #MeToo.

I was 20. I had fencing training at our university's gym. It's vacant, save for a group of alumni playing basketball. The cheer squad was rehearsing outside. I [went] to the locker rooms alone to change. As I [was] removing my shirt, I [turned] around to see a man crouched down by the door, his head peeping through the locker room. He was watching me. All I could do was scream, but the sound of the drums [drowned] me out...[By some miracle, he ran away.] I [found] out later that the pervert was one of the alumni playing basketball at the gym that night. He [was] a law school graduate. [They told me not to sue the school, so I didn't say anything.] #MeToo.

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I was 13. It was my birthday. My mom finally let me have a sleepover because I had just graduated grade school. I invited all my friends, and we watched Disney Original movies all night. Boys and girls should sleep in different quarters, my mom said, but we thought it was a dumb rule. We all slept in one room anyway. It was past midnight, my first few minutes of being 13, when someone groped me.

I kept my eyes closed the entire time. #MeToo.

I was 7. It was the first day of first grade, and everyone was so excited to be "big kids." I felt extra lucky because the teacher assigned me to the seat next to the window with my best friend. It was only the first subject when we both hear a "psst" coming from outside. We turn to see a man standing outside the fence of our school. He pulled down his pants and exposed himself to both of us. I don't remember anything else from the first grade, except that I never wanted to look out the window again.

Would you believe me when I say that these are only the stories I can bear to tell? Would you believe me when I say that this is only the tip of the iceberg?

These stories sit with many otherswhen I refused to be let out of my date's bedroom; when I was followed outside of a club; when I was violated along Katipunan. It's so easy to sweep ugly things like this under the rug, but we can't let people think that things are okay when they have NEVER been okay. Women know it, we don't have to explain it. But we explain it now because we need the world to know."

Ina:

"I remember being fresh out of college with a new job and having a manyak Team Lead. I only realized he was harassing me (touching and stroking) after he did it a few times. At that time, I was brave enough to report it because I knew I wasn't going to stay in the company (I was there for just two months). I filed a sexual harassment case to HR and that actually made other victims brave enough to speak up, too. [He eventually got fired]. I don't remember his name or how he looked, but that incident is ingrained in my head.

And my experience with harassment didn't end there. I've had my share of [men] who think they can get away with it. It is all too common, and you tend to brush it off as something you just deal with. I've also learned to play the game, and use it to my advantage. It is sad to think that you just have to live with it."

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Melody:

"I remember watching "Wake up Little Suzie" starring Aiza Seguerra and the Eat Bulaga crew with my big sister in a Q.C. movie house. I remember the cinema being packed so my sister and I shared a seat. This man beside us was looking at me while fondling his [penis]. At first, I didn't understand what was going on but my sister suddenly told me to get up and whisked me to the sides of the theater to finish the movie. We've never spoken about it so I don't know if my sister saw what I saw, but I don't think I was emotionally or mentally scarred by that. But that sure as hell was wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote, "Me too" as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem."

Click here for everything you need to know about the #MeToo campaign and here for what you need to do if you're sexually harassed.