- Posted August 20, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Speaking up about sexual violence
Your India, my Israel
After reading Rosecharms story I cried. These are the feelings I haven’t been able to express in words. Or maybe I just haven't had the courage.
When people ask me about my experiences in Israel I am left with the same ambivalence. I answer: It was interesting, but also hard. And they nod understandingly. So I usually leave it at that. People don't want to hear it. Even my friends and family don't really want the details after I told them I was sexually harrased. My mother starts crying when I mention it and now, 6 months later, I am expected to have moved on. So I shut my mouth.
Thank you, Rosecharms, for giving me the courage to tell my story.
Three months in Israel thaught me the same horribles truths. As a tall, blond girl I recieved the exact same unwanted attention.
Men stared. Men groped. Men took pictures. As if I wasn't even a human being but a nice, shiny object. And they had no shame.
Especially one episode still haunts me akwake and asleep: In the kibbutz I worked and lived in and was supposed to be safe in I was sexually harrassed by an older man at my work. He wasn't even a stranger but someone I considered to be my friend. I had never, never hinted anything (and why would I?) or even been standing close to him while we talked but one day he was waiting for me outside the toilets and he started complimenting my body and pulled me into a hug and kissing my face and neck. He held me tight and I was unable to free myself. I was powerless. Even if I hadn't been in shock, it wouldn't have made any difference seeing he as a grown man was so much bigger and stronger than I. When he let me go I thought it was over but it wasn't. He repeated it. And he didn't realize he had done anything wrong before the police came and arrested him. Because apparently he considered it okay.
When the rest of the kibbutz had been informed, I heard stories about how they had always found him a bit odd and how horrible it was. From the same men who gazed at me when I entered the dining hall.
He lost his job.
I'm left with dread and fear and sleepless nights.
Months after in France my mother and I got lost and ended in an arab neighbourhood at night and a man pretended to take a picture of me with his hands. I broke down crying and shaking. Right there on the street.
Even a drunk and probably harmless old man at the local bar who leans a bit too much over my table can set my breath hyperventilating and my heart beating fast with fear. Because I haven't moved on.