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sexual harassment

TRIGGERWARNING: sexualised violence

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Everything smelled and tasted like him. […] I felt disgusting.

Leonie, 21

 
In this interview around the issue of sexual harassment.

“Sexual harassment” – these words are familiar to all of us. Everyone has heard of it, been a victim of harassment themselves or knows someone who has experienced it. And yet the topic is still a taboo subject and many victims are afraid to talk about it or are even ashamed that it happened.

Tell us something about yourself.

I’m Leonie, 21, and I live in Berlin. I’m about to start training as a nursery school teacher, play Quidditch in my free time and enjoy life in the big city.

What kind of sexual harassment have you experienced? Tell about the incident.

In my life, I have experienced several incidents of sexual harassment. Today, however, I am telling you about a situation that has particularly burdened and shaped me:

It happened on the way to the gym. He had messaged me on Instagram and offered to accompany me to my sports class. Later, he showed up on my doorstep. Right from the start, we walked holding hands and I remember very well that I was chewing gum, which may sound irrelevant at first, but these are the details that burn themselves into your brain so much that you can’t get them out. A few hundred metres later there was a small wall at seat height. He told me to sit down because he really wanted to kiss me. Inwardly, I didn’t feel like it at all. He stood between my legs while I sat on the wall. The kissing was very disgusting, he drooled and then had my chewing gum in his mouth. We walked on and at some point there was a white van in a side street. Suddenly he says to me that I have to prove to him that I really like him and that he has a test for me. We went behind the minibus and he asked me if I wanted to touch his cock. I said no. He asked me if I wanted to see it. I said no. When he asked me if we wanted to kiss again, I didn’t want to say no again and let him talk me into it. As we were kissing, he suddenly reached into his pants, pulled out his cock and started jerking off. He tried to get into my pants with his hand but luckily they were too tight. Instead, he grabbed my butt and boobs. I remember thinking at that moment, phew, thank God I have tight pants on. After he came, he asked me for a tissue. Then he looked at his mobile and said he had to go as his mum had cooked. I went on to the gym. Everything smelled and tasted like him. I tried to get rid of it by drinking a lot to get rid of the taste and by taking frequent showers to get his hands off my body. I felt disgusting.

How old were you back then?

I was 16 at the time, he was 18.

Did you realise in the situation that the other person was assaulting or only later?

At that moment I felt deep inside that I didn’t want that, but I didn’t feel that his behaviour was sexual harassment and assault. I only realised this afterwards.

Did you fight back? If so, with words, movements or objects?

I tried to find excuses. He didn’t make it easy for me and tried to persuade me.

Eine Person hält ihre Schlüssel als "Waffe" in der Hand. Im Hintergrund stehen verschwommen im dunklen zwei Personen.

Did you tell anyone what happened to you? How did they react? Did you get support?

For a long time I kept it all to myself, only later did I confide in my friends and get emotional support from them.

Did you seek therapy/counselling after the incident? If yes, did it help you? If no, have you thought about it?

I didn’t go to therapy until much later. But since I have been in therapy, I have learned to deal with this situation much better. On the one hand, it has shown me how to come to terms with the situation and, on the other hand, how to deal with future situations like this.

Did you file a complaint with the police? If yes, have proceedings been initiated? If not, have you thought about it?

I thought about it, but knew it would lead nowhere. There was hardly any evidence for my story and I didn’t want to create any “unnecessary” turmoil. At the time, I didn’t know how to deal with the situation myself. I felt very alone and didn’t dare talk to my parents or friends about it.

Did you have problems trusting (new) partners afterwards?

Yes, I had, for example I also have problems with long-term partners when they wanted to put their hands down my trousers.

How much does the incident still affect you today?

The incident rarely bothers me nowadays, as I am hardly ever confronted with it in everyday life, but when I am, it is very much so.

Eine Person hält sich auf einer Party das Glas zu. Neben ihr tanzen Menschen.
Eine Person sitzt im dunklen mit Pfefferspray an einer Bushaltestelle

Do you have any advice for people who have also experienced sexual harassment?

Talk to others about what happened and try not to let it get you down. Always stay yourself.

If you can think of anything else you would like to say, please feel free to share it.

Don’t waste thoughts on them, they don’t do that about you either.

If you feel like Leonie, or if some of the passages in this text made you feel like you were being addressed, here are a few things we can do to help:
https://weisser-ring.de/ (Help victims of crime of any kind)
https://heimwegtelefon.net/ (Bring you home safely at night)
https://beauftragte-missbrauch.de/themen/hilfeangebote-fuer-betroffene-von-sexualisierter-gewalt (Help with sexual violence/abuseh)