To the woman we all know and likely have been; your feelings are valid. You were not over-reacting when that person groped you without notice- without consent.
To the woman who felt someone’s eyes on them, you had all the right to speedily walk in that panic, in total shock, when that individual followed you home.
To the woman who felt she had to second-guess her attire to ensure that what she wore, when she was catcalled on that busy street where no one even blinked at hearing those unwelcomed words; it was not your fault. You were not ‘asking’ for it.
And you do not need to live with a heavy heart and tarnished memory.
The journey to forgiveness is a tough one. I know. What hurts me may not hurt you, but this pain is very much collective. We’ve all either known someone or have been someone who experienced such a traumatic experience- that I can assure you.
You may still sense a friend holding onto his or her own pain without having the ability to release it, even if years have gone by. Perhaps you considered speaking up about your own experience only to consider it unimportant and now too far in the past.
Perhaps you were brave enough moments after your occurrence and spoke up about the unpleasant encounter to a family member or friend only for them to reply with an insensitive remark. As if it should be brushed aside…because, hey!? It will likely happen again.
But for a moment, let’s not forget the catcaller. The molester. The drunken peer at the bar that pressures you into ‘just one more dance’. Let’s consider, for this moment, what that individual could be bearing. So very much so that they must react in such complete absurdity. Why do they crave this attention that they are so grotesquely and outwardly coveting? Do they harbor their own pain; their own suffering?
Of course this is not to support or excuse their behavior. This is to perceive, through their eyes, their intention and their inability to respect another individual.
We must come from a place of forgiveness and strength in order to move forward, to love ourselves and appropriately learn the right from the wrongs and to move on with a healthy, emotional position of peace.
We are the mothers of sons and of daughters, regardless of gender, who must learn and understand why such behavior is wrong.
If we keep quiet, it only gives them permission to continue these acts. Should we keep these stories hidden as an acceptance of bad behavior? Absolutely not.
We must not keep quiet. We must speak up and stand up for others and ourselves. Our goal is for these people to view themselves as that pained, damaged individual that they’re projecting. For no one deserves the anguish they’re able to manifest.
Each perpetrator should understand the extent that their negative actions bring upon not only their victim but also themselves. They are sons and daughters of mothers. They may have children, too.
The inability to heal may transfer onto their children. And the cycle continues.
These individuals often come from broken homes and broken hearts. They do not have the capacity to fully love because they were never shown how to love themselves. More times than not, the person who did not take ‘no’ for an answer is hurting more than you know. They are simply and unfairly transferring their hurt.
There has never been so much pain in our world than there is today, regarding global discourse, environmental disasters, and spiritual conflicts. We must open this conversation. We must come together with an abundant amount of love to transfer that new-found knowledge of openness onto our upcoming generations.
Shouldn’t we discuss these traumatic incidents that we’ve experienced with our children? Shouldn’t we raise them with empathy and compassion and the basic respect for their fellow peers?
Evidently we cannot shelter our children from the world’s realities no matter how damaging. But we can talk about them.
As their initial teachers, we should be an open book (age and maturity permitting, of course). We need to expose our children to these unsavory truths. They must learn these rights and wrongs so they do not grow into these confused, damaged peoples. If they fully understand respect, they may grow into that someone who stands up for the recipient of bad behavior.
Our children will encounter many an uncomfortable situation in their journey through life. If we make a conscious effort to bring forth our own stories, our own experiences, and shed light onto each and every individual, we will build an awareness that our children deeply need. They need to know the unspoken (now spoken) rules if they’re consciously going to break them. If they’re consciously going to know what is right from wrong.
We teach our children to look both ways to cross the road. We teach our children not to have tunnel vision. Why not teach them to look both ways in life?
Words by Julian Jamie