Okay, let’s be real here… I have struggled my entire life with self image issues. It doesn’t matter how many times I am told I’m pretty, I’ve got a great smile, etc. etc. I always default to, “I wish I was more than just average, or I wish I could be skinnier, or even more “fit”. I dunno, I suppose this stems from some sort of traumatic experience I had back in everyone’s most memorable days… HIGH SCHOOL! You know the days I’m talking about… even though I played sports, was very active, and considered a “cool” or popular kid, that crap took work, and I mean CRAZY MAD WORK! I find it funny to recall the energy that I put into being a part of the “in crowd” and how many years later I spend my energy focused on everything except being a part of that same crowd.
You may ask, “why is she telling me this”, well… I share this because it was in those days that there was a time I’d be perfectly fine with say… someone giving me a flirty glance, a cute love note, their number, or on a really good day a slap on the ass from the captain of the football team. As it would turn out, I’ve aged a bit (and to perfection I might add 🙂 ) have a level of maturity that I didn’t have then (maybe not much more but definitely more) and most certainly have a great level of respect for myself….
That’s right ladies and gentleman, yours truly fell victim of a butt grab! I can make light of this now because I am confident in my own skin and I have an AWESOME support team, BUT.. it had gotten late on me while enthralled in some crazy fun spreadsheets, but decided to head out. As I walk to my car, I was followed, and despite the fact I was power hoofing it the whole time, I was approached by this guy and thanked for my kindness and positive energy from earlier in the day. Now look, I don’t get a ton of compliments, so when one is thrown at me, I gladly take it! I turned around a bit and as I did, in he swooped for a very awkward and unexpected HUG, which I’d like to say is a hazy memory, but unfortunately, it is not. As I was leaning out of this oh so awkward hug, I felt an ever so firm grip on my right butt cheek!! Seriously?! what the heck!?
Okay, so guess what I did?
YUP, that’s right, I FROZE!
Go ahead, you can ask… “Why didn’t you deck him”?
I always used to tell myself that if a situation ever took place where I was in harm’s way, I could handle myself. I’ve spent my whole life surrounded by strong men of which I’ve held my own with along the way. Most would tell you I was a force to be reckoned with and not get in my way as I was a woman on a mission. All I can say is that at this moment, I felt weak. I felt like I was defeated, defenseless, and more importantly violated. I don’t really think I was ever truly in harm’s way and believe this guy ordinarily wouldn’t hurt a fly but at this moment it was if he had a brief power over me.
So now what?
After quickly dismissing myself from the situation, I climbed in the car and headed home. A million thoughts raced through my mind and before I knew it I was blaming myself! Was I too nice to this guy? Did I mislead him in any way? Did I betray my family? I felt embarrassed and disgusted. Where did I go wrong?
I definitely experienced all stages and didn’t exactly plow through the grief cycle that quickly (Shock, Anger, Guilt, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance), but I will admit my swift movement through is attributed to two things: 1) AWESOME AWESOME Support team (thanks friends and family) 2) Self-confidence and determination. Okay so although that’s technically three, let’s just roll with it..
Some people might question what the big deal is, I mean after all this was just a simple butt grab, right? WRONG! This is far from a simple act… It is important to know this was a flat out violation of personal space, individual rights and betrayal of trust. Regardless of the degree of violation, acts like this impact everyone differently and can be easy for some and very challenging for others to mentally overcome. I won’t lie and say that I’m fully over what happened, and as a matter of fact it still really creeps me out, but the things that I came out of this with that although are commonly known, felt should be shared again and again and again! OH and again!
SO here they are!
- From the heart and mouth of my husband, “IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT, ITS NEVER YOUR FAULT”! After we get through the shock of something like this happening, the human nature side of us kicks in and blames ourselves! I know it’s hard (been there done that) but you need to keep the seed planted in your mind and fight the urge when it arises. (For those support team members out there, thanks for reminding us of this!)
- It’s OK to CRY! No matter what the incident was, you need to release the emotion and allow yourself to be “human” and react to what happened. Look, I cried… When I opened up to tell my husband after I arrived home, I lost it.. I broke down and shared with him how icky I felt and that I was convinced it was all my fault. It was during this moment, I revert you back to #1 above!
- GET “Positively” ANGRY! It is okay to get angry so long as the anger you are feeling is propelling you to a positive ending. Harnessing the anger to drive towards something that will ultimately make you feel better is good! (Negative energy fueling anger can lead to even more negative acts and behaviors which may be detrimental).
- Talk about it! Confide in your AWESOME support team! They will be your biggest advocates and help guide you through the grief cycle (and provide some really great advice to boot)!
- Easier said than done, but CONFRONT IT! Confront the situation head on! If you feel it is a non threatening situation, you should set that person straight (in person followed up by writing) on your feelings and what is appropriate versus not appropriate behavior. IF for ANY reason you feel threatened or concerned there is a greater risk to you, REPORT IT! Appropriate actions should be taken to report what has happened to people and groups such as your boss, human resources/employee relations, a loved one, and in some cases law enforcement.
I’ll be the first one to admit that although you think something may be benign, don’t take anything for granted or assume. Your first priority is YOU and protecting yourself, so when in doubt… BE VOCAL ABOUT IT!
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If you halfway enjoyed this read, I’d appreciate a like and a share, but would also love to hear from you! It is through the sharing of experience that we as individuals can grow ourselves and would be excited to hear your story!
I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by following me on Twitter @nancymouellette or Facebook @OwnYourPurpose and by going to www.nancymouellette.com