Archive for Sexual Violence

Banishing Silence: Stepping Into Truth

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2018 by tivaniam

At the age of 19, I was raped.

For 17 years, I kept it a secret, only telling a select few, until last year when I decided to write about it in my autobiography. The details of the incident are discussed in my book, but to me are inconsequential. The bigger issue for me is why I remained silent. Why women continue to remain silent.

Over the years, I’ve experienced sexual harassment verbally, physically and digitally and only recently elected to openly discuss these issues. Why? Because, for years, I was filled with shame, guilt, embarrassment, fear of judgment and ridicule and more importantly, the belief that I would be considered “less than” by any man who wanted to be with me.

It’s a generational pathology to simply do what was always done. And for decades women have been taught to smile and be silent out of fear of judgment and shame. We live in a society that teaches women to shrink, and to be ashamed of telling the truth. But for me, the moment anyone invalidates someone else’s truth, they dehumanise them. I had to learn, that when people start the rumours, when they judge, when they re-tell my story disparagingly, when they mock or ridicule or try to shame me, it’s never ever about me.

Writing has become my solitary place where I’m paying the most attention. It’s a place where my heart is wide open and I am the purest version of myself. It’s also where I am told to be silent, because truth is very inconvenient. I’ve always known that my silence never served me, and since beginning this journey of  truth telling, I accepted my life is the amalgam of brutal and beautiful and I needed to own that, unapologetically, if I was to make any difference in this world.

As women, we are taught that certain things are “unbecoming of a girl” and when we cross the line, there is a hefty price to pay. We weren’t allowed to speak about contentious issues like rape, abuse or sexual harassment, and we couldn’t be smart and draw attention to our intellect.

But silence either makes us too tender or too tough. This metastasizes into either ass-kissing and people pleasing, or conversely, aggression and anger. We become as sick as our secrets.

Fear of judgment, shame and guilt, is a nefarious act that holds us captive from speaking out. This tyranny of impoverished thinking has kept us prisoners in our own minds. We don’t speak out, because we want to be “normal” and accepted but we end up with the truth seeping out sideways through depression or addiction. We need to open our mouths more often to let the truth exist outside rather than allowing our bodies, minds and souls to rot by keeping it inside.

Offering my experience to the world was a form of truth-telling in a way that changed the trajectory of my life. My silence gave other people the power to decide my worth and plan my life for me. When you’re living in the echo chamber of your own mind, you cannot have discernment. When I chose to speak my truth, I did so for posterity’s sake, to change belief systems and give my daughter and the generations to come permission to do the same. No one will determine my story, only I will. My voice will change the world. If it makes you uncomfortable then it’s working. Truth sounds a lot like hate, for those who hate the truth.

In an era that promotes universal facades and pretence, telling the truth starts a revolution.

Insurgent women, it’s time to rise up. Be less concerned with judgment and more concerned with redemption. The time is up for remaining silent.

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#MeToo

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2017 by tivaniam

I recently shared a #MeToo post on my Facebook profile, because obviously, #MeToo.

For those who aren’t aware, the recent #MeToo social media campaign invited women from across the world to use the hashtag as a way to increase the scope of visibility of those who’ve experienced sexual harassment; from your everyday woman, to celebrities, to politicians. This only serves to highlight the prominence of what is endured silently. And now, women are choosing to banish the shame and fear, and speak out.

This has absolutely nothing to do with victimisation or creating propaganda or more divisiveness. This is about creating awareness and highlighting the change that needs to happen. This is about treating the cause with the reverence it deserves.

I’ve been sexually harassed more times than I can count over the years from men who chose to contact me, unsolicited and uninvited, commenting on everything from my legs; to my ass; to my hair; to my breasts; bartering first, then more insistently explaining why I need to have sex with them. This has not gotten better as I’ve gotten older – it’s become worse.

Today, I received a few of these messages on my public business Facebook page, of which two stood out. Man #1 commented on my legs saying he simply loved the fact that I “showed them off”. When his comment received no response, he messaged me back to say that “I’ve disrespected him by ignoring him”. Man #2 sent me a message saying “Hi honey, I want to get to know you because I like you and you are sexy and I am lonely”. I didn’t respond so he publicly posted his displeasure on my wall: “fucking moron bitch, you are an asshole”.

So this is the thing. It’s easy to harass and abuse power, exert control and dominance or physically intimidate women into silence about these things. I know that I’ve been very afraid to speak about my incidents over the years because a lot of these men were physically overwhelming and scary. Now with social media, virtual harassment is the common practice but not less scary. The bottom line is, hurt people hurt people and it’s about time we get to the real issues, of what’s behind the abuse – pain and fear – and start addressing these social evils that keep us all as sick as our secrets.

The psychology and sociology of these patterns of behaviour need to be looked at, individually first, because from there it has a ripple effect on the collective humanity. We cannot possibly move forward and make the shifts we need consciously if we see ourselves as separate from each other. To those men who choose to dishonour women: understand that by such behaviour, you prevent yourself from levelling up and you perpetuate these vicious cycles onto the next generation and the next generation. Your actions demonstrate your internal inefficiencies and that holds us back from progressing, if it’s left festering in filth.

Immediately, we can start to do better. This starts with being aware.

‘No’ means no.

‘No’ does not mean ‘try harder’.

Single does not mean available.

How a woman dresses is not an invitation for you to pursue her.

Respect boundaries.

Watch your language. There is a fine line between a compliment and sexual objectification or obscenity. 

Hear us. See us. Pay attention.

#MeToo

 

Red My Lips: On Making Visible The Fight Against Sexual Violence

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 1, 2015 by tivaniam

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She was 8. He was 42.

Her innocence and purity was untainted. She trusted him. He knew that. He was calculated. Cunning. Manipulative. A psychopath who exploited that trust and abused it in the worst possible way.

On a random night, he consciously chose to poke, prod and pry open her innocence, taking from her what was pure and using it for his own sick gratification.

She was neither sexually provocative, nor suggestive. Most perpetrators who violate women or children grasp at threads looking for excuses to validate or justify their behaviour.

He said she made it up.

She was troubled, he said.

He pitied her. Offered his support.

People believed him.

Except me. I know the truth. And I will never be silenced.

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I will wear red lipstick for the month of April to show my support to victims of sexual abuse. Age is limitless. Any girl or woman who has been violated deserves a voice and deserves to be heard, supported and applauded for her choice to speak up. Let us not be silenced. 

#RedMyLips

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