Story: Ava Miles
Women have experienced sexual harassment and assault throughout history. Those who were targeted received little or no recourse. Predators have acted with impunity for too long. Time’s up, and thank God.
Many women have felt that they couldn’t stop it and couldn’t speak up—or believed if they did speak up, they wouldn’t be heard. Since the news last fall of the accusations against film executive Harvey Weinstein, however, a tidal wave of female voices has emerged to say #MeToo and finally hold predators accountable. Being heard is step one, but it’s only the beginning. Here are a few ideas of what else we can do to continue this positive paradigm shift so other women don’t ever experience this.
1. Recognize predators’ M.O.: Predators typically have a plan of attack. They want to get you alone and put you in a situation where you are vulnerable. We can make thoughtful choices to avoid such situations, and these choices can be calculated rather than fear-based. Take charge of your space as much as you can. For example, don’t accompany a male co-worker to his hotel room on a business trip. Suggest a public meeting place. Create or reframe situations so you are calling the shots.
2. Recognize your power: The fight against sexual harassment continues, but if the #MeToo movement has shown us anything it’s that our voices are powerful. We as a people aren’t willing to put up with offender behavior anymore. More than ever before in history, women no longer have to tolerate a coworker grabbing their butt at the holiday party or a superior requesting sexual favors. You now have better options to report offenders without ruining your life or career.
3. Ditch the shame game: How many of us have spent sleepless nights wondering if we could have done something different to prevent an offender’s actions? “What if I hadn’t said hello to him? What if I hadn’t been so nice? What if I hadn’t worn that dress? Maybe the incident wouldn’t have happened.” It’s time to silence this self-loathing. The reality is that the person would have acted that way regardless because that’s who he’s chosen to be: a predator. It has nothing to do with who you are, what you wear, or how you act. If he didn’t act that way towards you, he likely would have picked someone else. This is a pattern of behavior, and it’s on him, not you.
Now, might there have been some red flags you see more clearly in retrospect? Sure, but those are your learning opportunities. In the future, you’ll see the red flags from a mile away and can respond proactively to take control of the situation. For example, if you find yourself in a compromising or threatening scenario, here are a few ways you can get out of it quickly:
• Pretend to throw up as if you suddenly have a bout of food poisoning and run to the bathroom.
• Belch or pass gas—seriously! Then run out of the room as if purely due to feeling mortified. You may be embarrassed, but it’s better than being assaulted.
• Gasp and suddenly remember some dire situation. You missed an important phone call, forgot your keys in the car, or forgot to pick up your child from an after-school event and you’ve got to go—now!
Women are standing up and standing together to say that harassment behaviors are no longer acceptable and that we no longer are willing to overlook them—and the public is standing with us. Create strategies for your safety, but use these from a place of power rather than fear if you can. Finally, the world has your back and it is time for all of us to soar to heights some tried to prevent us from reaching.
About the writer
International bestselling author Ava Miles calls herself a divine rock star, something she believes everyone is deep down. Her new book series, “The Goddess Guides to Being a Woman,” invites female readers to reimagine what it means to be a modern woman on our own terms. For more information, visit avamiles.com.