Opinion

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shhhh

- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

It sounds so easy. "If something bad really happened – speak up. Identify yourself. Tell.    If you don't, it must be because it's not true."

Why don't we tell - That a father, uncle, neighbour touched, or asked, or suggested – and watched to see how we'd respond?

Because we might have misunderstood. Or he might say we lied. We might have to move. It would hurt his wife. Every Christmas would be different after this if we did. Or we might have liked it – maybe there is something wrong with us.

Why don't we tell - That a co-worker or the boss or the teacher touches our legs or breasts and says we're pretty? Or that we did date him once but it was creepy and we keep making excuses not to do it again?

Because maybe we should just be flattered. Or maybe we are. Or he gives us extra breaks and days off, or extensions on our assignments when we really, really need them.  He'll just say we imagined it, before he starts to be extra hard on us until we cry. Or quit. And then he'll say we weren't up to the job.

Why don't we tell - That our bosses discredit, or take credit for, our work? That we were told they only assign men to those positions because "it's just easier"?

Because we worked so hard to get into this career and these jobs are not easy to come by and we moved just to take this one. Because we love this work and promotions aren't given to people who aren't "team players".

Why don't we tell - That our husband, or boyfriend, or the father of our children cheated, or hit us once, or controls our phone, or doesn't give us any money for groceries?

Because we don't want our friends to think he's a bad guy, because he isn't...really... right? Or they might take the kids away, and those kids have been through enough. People might say we weren't good enough wives, or that we're stupid for staying. Are we? Or maybe this is just the way men are?

 

Why don't we tell - That we were raped?

 

Because we've heard what people said about those women who told. "It takes two." "She shouldn't have been there." "It's just her word against his." "Innocent until proven guilty" "She just wants fame/vengeance/publicity/money". "She's a slut."

And that's just what other women say.

 

That's why we don't tell.

 

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