This is what actually happens when you report sexual harassment
I’ve been traveling by myself for the last 14 years, advocating solo female travel and deeply trying to understand our gender and society — I never thought the day would come that I would say “me too.”
For the lack of better words, things had been fucking awful. While on a blogger trip in Georgia, I have been touched and grabbed by a man ten times my size without my consent. I am not allowed to write in detail since this is an undergoing case but I want to share this with you: a lot of things are wrong with our world.
Of course, you already know that. Since you are already here, ready to witness yet another Netflix episode that is my life, I’d tell you anyway.
Before I proceed, be reminded that this is my space and this is my story. You can’t barge in my house and tell me that my dining table is not in the right place. If you do that, whoever you are, you will be dead to me. I will never invade your house so I ask you to do the same, not just to me – be more compassionate to every person who openly shares their stories. To every person who tells their truth.
In the blogging world, I am known to write stories. I’ve had a public life in this blog for years and a long time ago, I made a conscious effort not to be the one saying crazy shit on the Internet right away or verbalizing all these feelings until I have processed them privately. In this Internet age, every human being’s life is accessible online. And when we read shit like this, it’s either we sympathize or say crazy bat shit about the person we don’t even personally know. There is no room for that in my home. This is a space where I can freely word vomit.
For the sake of the new people reading this blog, I grew up in a non-conservative family but I am from a society where Asian women are expected to sit properly, to watch the words coming out of their mouth, to marry and have children, to not curse, blah blah — all that shebang. Y’all know I don’t fit that mold anymore. I mean, look at me?! I was the unusual girl in my family. Lucky for me, they take unusual with very high regard.
I am from a household of women. I don’t know if it’s the Filipino genes thing: there are more girls in my family than boys. I grew up with a single mom, divorced aunts, straight-turned-lesbian aunts, lesbians-turned-straight aunts, allergic to marriage aunts, married five times aunts: I have always been surrounded with myriad types of women ever since I was young because that’s the kind of village my mother had. All these aunts also tell me it’s okay if I curse like a sailor.
Anyway, you get the picture: I am an incredibly empowered woman with a very strong personality. I am someone who my family and friends don’t have to worry about. I survived 14 years on the road keeping myself safe.
I have yelled, stomped my feet, and figured out all the reactions, feelings, and emotions that I had. The main life lesson for me in this story is learning why women don’t report sexual harassment. In between, while writing this, I still have some regrets about reporting it but I am sure, one day, that regret will go away.
“Our system is broken” is a phrase used so many times but not all of us see or feel it. I was convinced I needed to report this even though I know it will be a hard process but man, dios mio, guys – it’s harder than I thought. Like a really really shitty system you are forced to uncomfortably participate in.
It would be too long if I write everything in order so the way I will write this story is in form of questions. For the first time in my life, I found myself being questioned about how I feel and trying to figure out if there was a right or wrong answer.
I am not sure how reporting cases like this are the same as where you are from. I do know and I am 100% sure that even if this happened to me in Georgia, a country that I love, this shit happens anywhere in the world.
Are you okay?
People like to sympathize but most of us really don’t know how to, especially if it’s about sexual abuse. I mean is there really a correct way? Our initial reactions to victims are pity – to reach out for them to know we are with them and that we are thinking about them. Since I was on a group trip, I got a lot of that. Let alone half of the group are content creators I already did trips with in the past. They fucking care about me.
Like many instances in this story, I did not know how I felt about how people comforted me or how I was treated because of the situation.
I know most of us mean well but I feel like “I am sorry this happened to you” does not really give comfort. Don’t get me wrong, I always use “I am sorry” too. It’s just different for me this time now that I know how it feels to be on the other side. I will never use that phrase again. Ever.
It’s like saying “my condolences” flatly at every funeral because seriously, how do you comfort a person who just lost someone if you never had the experience of losing someone? How do you comfort someone who has been sexually harassed if you did not experience it yourself? This is a long debate. I feel like this is subjective and personal. The “correct” comforting words are really hard to find.
No one teaches us that because being sexually harassed/abused should not happen to anyone – men, women, LGBTQ, black, white, Jews, Muslim, Asian. It’s not right.
Oh sure, Trisha. Keep saying that. You know very well that in our wretched world, that’s totally normal. No big deal.
What was the correct way (for me) to reach out? I analyzed this and we all have a different preference. I would have liked:
- “We are going to do what you want to do.”
- “What do you want to happen?”
- “I am with you and remember you are strong!”
- “Yes-go-girl-you-got-this-boo” would have been very informal but the black girl in me would love that
Gabby, who is the main character in this story has supported and encouraged me in reporting it because, like me, she’s also someone who faces the daily prejudice of being a woman of color. “They can’t just get away with this,” were the prominent last words before I actually unplugged from the world because of the tedious process.
If you say you’re okay, people will just move on. If you say you’re not okay, you will be asked to go to a therapist. Anyway, they will still move on. You’re on your fucking own.
I would say that I was physically okay since I was strong enough to fight back and run away. I just don’t know where I am mentally and psychologically. I feel so undone by it and I can’t figure out why. It’s like I’ve been robbed and I can’t do anything about it but to sit on the shit and try to eat it until it’s gone.
What I felt at this time: I was okay and feeling very strong. At the same time, I felt really robbed.
Do you need medical attention?
Okay, this is the thing. I was not physically harmed. There was no blunt force. This was asked by the police about 7 times to confirm that there was no physical abuse which probably makes their job easier and makes me like a drama queen who needs to exit now after making a grand entrance.
“I know sexual harassment isn’t as bad as rape,” is a phrase I’d quote from someone I know who got sexually harassed in the workplace. Seriously, do we really want to go that road? It seems like harassment is so normalized because it’s not as bad as abuse and assault. For sure, abuse and assault are super bad but why can’t we just stick to a rule: ‘you cannot do anything to anyone without consent.’
It’s like saying: “Juan fell off his bike and JUST got a bruise.” Oh, okay, he will just be fine!
But if “Juan fell off the bike and had a concussion, broke his leg, and hit his head on the pavement. He needs two surgeries: This is grave! He could die from the surgeries! Let’s call the authorities! Someone has to pay!
That was a bad analogy or example. What I am trying to say is our reactions towards harassment, assault, and abuse have levels. Victims of sexual harassment are often vastly judged and misjudged at the same time. We look at victims of these three categories differently. What they experience dictates how we react.
I also want to say how the word “JUST” was frequently dropped during the investigation. “Did he kiss you on the lip or JUST the cheek?” “Did he grab your face hard or JUST softly?”
Since I had a translator during the report, it could be just a bad translation but I am pretty sure JUST has the same impact in any language.
My dear friends, I don’t know if we pay attention to what sexual harassment means. I want to make sure we are all on the same page. I also know that if you are a well-put man like my brothers are, you will not do the following, which are all in the sexual harassment category. This list is in the HR books of companies:
- inappropriate touching
- invasion of privacy
- sexual jokes
- lewd or obscene comments or gestures
- exposing body parts
- showing graphic images
- unwelcome sexual emails, text messages, or phone calls
- sexual bribery, coercion, and overt requests for sex
- sexual favoritism
- being offered a benefit for a sexual favor
- being denied a promotion or pay raise because you didn’t cooperate
Yes ma’am, sir, one can definitely report you for sexual jokes. Most of us don’t do it because it’s JUST that and it’s not as grave. We know very well that this can escalate to assault and abuse if we let harassment happen. Oh God, if you experienced this and you are not coming forward, please do not wait.
What I felt at this time: I was furious inside and I couldn’t do anything. The number of times they repeated the same questions, using the exact same words, and using JUST all the time, was astonishing. So I had my usual inner dialogue:
This is just the beginning. Don’t be miserable just yet. You are not Malala who got shot in the face by the Taliban. You are definitely not Anne Frank. They did not complain. Stop feeling bad. You are okay. You don’t get to complain.
Do you want your friends to go with you to the police station?
… was a question from the handlers and organizers of the blogger trip I was in. Look, I’d normally do things on my own. Since my friends were witnesses, they were more hyper-reactive than I was because my brain completely shut down. They were my village since I did not feel taken care of by the people in charge of me. I mean, it’s JUST harassment, right? Get over it, girl.
Let’s have a break on the heavy shit and talk a little bit about my furious village who have stomped their feet in frustration with me. Well, the three of them combined, make at least 3 million people on all platforms. Respectfully, they are just waiting for me to tell my story first before they detonate their own bombs. I don’t need to ask them for anything because they will simply do anything for me.
I already mentioned Gabby at the beginning of this story. She looks like a real-life cartoon character. Like she just stepped off the pages of your favorite pop-up storybook. We laugh and rap Usher songs without fail like we’ve been best friends forever. She smiles so big and lets you get away from taking a second look at her every time she answers “I’m from the USA” to your “where are you from” question. She is only 25 and her blog is inspiring many young girls that there are no right or wrong dreams.
Gabby was asked by the police for hours (without me) so she has her own version of the story of our broken system.
I just realized how I touched Gaby’s hair which, if she feels offended, can be grounds for harassment too. She can totally report me.
Stefania is a friend of mine. She’s one of the travel blogger OGs’. The Italian in her will not just dodge a bullet. She will dodge an army of snipers if I ask her to. Well, even if I did not ask, she was ready to call the troops to load the ammo.
I do not have many bloggers in my inner circle but Stefania is a girlfriend I will keep for life. I have proven she will blindly jump a cliff with me and I promise to do the same for her. In addition, she has lived in Georgia for almost a year now and has her own share of how unsafe this country is for solo female travelers.
And then there’s Stefania’s boyfriend, Francisco, who intensified the Argentine girl in me. He and I get along because I have the habit of changing how I speak Spanish with Argentine people. I learned Spanish from my Argentine ex who was also called Francisco. Why am I not surprised! Argentines automatically turn me into a porteña and the best years of my life happened in Buenos Aires.
All the while I thought I’d never again use “sho,” “plasha,” or “vos podes.”
In today’s culture of gender divide, it’s hard for men to get in the conversation but a well-put man like Francisco did not conform to our society’s stereotype — that men can’t involve themselves in women’s issues. He stayed with me until I said he can go.
Since we’re already talking about this, please join one of my advocacies, the #HeForShe global movement.
What I felt this time: If you are the same online and in person, you will come across extraordinary allies.
How much wine did you drink?
Alright honey, we are in Georgia – a country that has 8,000 years of wine history. Literally the oldest in the world. You cannot possibly ask me this question. Even if I did have a lot of wine, this sounds like you are blaming me for drinking wine? Along with that, there were also questions like, “did you sip the wine when he poured it?” “Were you sipping the wine when you were inside the pool?” Let’s say I was drunk, how the hell am I supposed to remember this?
At the same time, the wine was very essential in this investigation because I had a bottle with me at the “crime scene.” They even took the bottle as evidence. Crime scene or not, there is always wine in Georgia. I honestly have not been in any breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner without a bottle (or five). Mind you, all of these were even for free because I was sponsored by the country. This, I do not need to explain because Jesus fucking Christ, we are in the wine capital of the world. Imagine my frustration. As this question kept popping, I had another inner dialogue:
Bitch, maybe you’re just drunk?
I realized that’s the thing. Investigations are so long and questions are so ridiculous that, if you are a victim, it will come to you at some point. I know for a fact that being drunk does not allow another person to touch you without consent. I still had to question myself because that’s how you’ll feel. That’s how they will make you feel.
Police: “It’s just protocol.”
Sure it is. They need to ask these questions. I see clearly why women don’t want to report sexual harassment. It will make you believe you are mad. I clearly gave a shit about drinking wine and started remembering that I was wearing the hotel robe with a bikini underneath.
Should I have not worn that in the spa?! Georgia is not a strange country to me because I’ve been here a few times. I do not remember that I should wear long sleeves because I’ve always believed that Georgia is a progressive country.
I remember walking freely in Tbilisi with short skirts. I remember not wearing a bra as the Georgian girls I know did the same. I remember all the Georgian women whom I admired despite the undying patriarchal society they have to deal with. I remember them not giving a shit. For Christ’s sake, I hitchhiked from Tbilisi to Batumi with a Georgian girl!
Maybe I’m wrong? Maybe this is not Georgia right now?! Maybe I have not visited since 2016 and things have changed because it’s 2021 now? Goddamnit. It will be a tragedy if they went backward.
Before walking to the police station, Gabby did my makeover with her super cute Juicy Couture-like outfits – loose, long, and baggy. My own wardrobe does not qualify the dress code at the police station. It’s like an exclusive club where bouncers can refuse entry if you are not ‘properly’ dressed.
How I felt at this time: Blaming myself for having wine. What the actual fuck. My stomach was also growling because this was the 5th hour, around 1:00 am. Nobody will ask you if you had dinner or if you are hungry.
Food is not important right now, bitch. Don’t think about it.
The next 24 hours will be grueling. And it was. It felt like it will never end even if I was just being asked the same questions over and over again.
Do you feel the same today as you felt yesterday?
On the first day of the investigation, the police asked me how I felt. Since I was very stressed, I did the Miss Universe answer: “I don’t want this to happen again to anyone. Someone has to pay.”
Alright Trisha, is that even a feeling?
If I were you, how will you answer this question? Let’s take a deeper analysis because, after a few days, this question bugged me so much I wanted to replace my beauty queen answer. And this is how it goes:
“Excuse me? Are you fucking kidding me? Am I really required to answer this? Okay, food and goods were sent to my room. Organizers stayed with me til 2:00 am. I was given a large sleeping pill. I slept the night off, so sure, yeah, today my answer changes. Today, I feel different. After 10 hours, yes, sure, I feel great.”
What actually happened: I told them I feel good. You know how I always have that big smile? I did that. I was actually amazed by my face’s ability to not betray my inner rage.
It’s not the police’s job to validate my feelings. In fact, they need to stick to the facts because what if I am just making all these up? I know that made-up stories SOMETIMES happen but women are NOT ALWAYS fucking crazy – it’s just that SOMETIMES, men can be fucking dogs. Okay, I don’t really want to use dogs because as you know, I fucking love dogs and I have a pack at home. *squeezes Archie in my mind*
Let’s write this again: it’s just that SOMETIMES, men deliberately choose to be incredibly disrespectful towards women, or towards anyone who they believe that are below their food chain.
Gabby kept telling me “facts, Trisha, facts. Stick to the facts.” I honestly don’t know what the facts were anymore. Do these facts include, “I feel like shit and I need to shower?” “I want food.” “I want to fucking go home.” “Mrs. Officer, you’re making me feel extremely uncomfortable.”
I wanted to stand up and do something to make me feel empowered. I wanted to stand up and do Amelia Shepherd’s Wonder Woman power pose. It always helped my body to cope with such weakness and fear. I do it a lot.
No bitch you can’t do that. They will think you are fucking crazy.
What I felt at this time: I was very convinced it’s a battle I will never win. Because I was tired and was deeply bothered by the questions, I thought of withdrawing, leaving Georgia, and just moving on. I did not want to finish the investigation.
Question break: what I started to realize as I was bombarded by questions I felt very uncomfortable to answer
How the fuck do you react when you are being asked uncomfortable questions? Are you even allowed to do that??? And these were not all of it. There was also “did he touch your breasts?” “Which part of your butt, left or right?” “Did he touch you here and there?”
Well, my friends, I did not allow myself to be vocal. I can’t believe I answered these questions. It made me really small.
Out of all the mixed emotions I was feeling, this was the one that was overpowering. People who are close to me will know that I will yell louder and step on the person I am combating, especially if I know I am with reason. Surprisingly, I did not feel like I wanted to smack anyone in the face or even yell, which I’d normally do.
Because part of me accepted the broken system. I followed the protocols. I answered all the most uncomfortable questions that honestly, have scarred my soul. I don’t know if it will go away. I felt like I was two different people, and they had swapped out when I needed to walk to the police station.
But a big part of me felt really sad for the women who don’t have the strength to answer these questions calmly. And to answer these questions without breaking their souls. I can only imagine.
This doesn’t happen to everyone that’s why we don’t have a deep understanding of it. For the duration of this ordeal, I have been called a non-victim (until the case is submitted) and a victim at the same time. The word victim makes me cringe. No one will ever choose this for themselves.
“I am a victim” (*more cringe*). I’m having this experience because someone took my soul, put it in a blender, and clicked mince, crush, shred, grind, liquefy – all at the same time. Someone decided it for me.
Dear Trisha, to live in this world means we have to live with unfair choices, even if we did not choose them for ourselves.
I cannot remember the last time I cried with that much pain underneath it. I cannot remember that I ever cried about being powerless. I cannot remember if there was even a Trisha who did not have power. The reason I was crying was not even because of the incident but I was so tired, worn out, hungry, and so undone. This investigation has eaten all of me.
Why am I letting these people do this to me?! Why did I say yes to all of this??? At this time, the regret of reporting it came again.
Seriously, you guys. If my close friends and my sisters would have seen me at that moment, they’d be like “who the fuck are you and what did you do to our Trisha.”
Good job, Trisha. You reported sexual harassment! Slow fucking claps. You want to be a hero for women, right? Surprise, surprise… this is what happens to heroes. They get nailed on the cross, frozen in the Arctic for 66 years, or stabbed with Batman’s kryptonite spear.
What I felt at this moment: If only we are all kind to each other, what a different world we would live in. I also realized and strongly felt that this world does not deserve me. I am too good of a person to be in it.
Can you show us the crime scene?
Intense emotions started flooding more. Not vocalizing it in such a fearless way which is who I am, made it feel very intense. I was hyper-vigilant. I avoided the “crime scene” because even after the first night, it was decided I stay in the same place where I had to lock all the doors and seal all the windows of my hotel room.
The normal me would scream and demand to be moved to another hotel. At this point, I was already dead inside and did not think about that. I took the large sleeping pill and passed the fucked out.
I was very aware of the fact that all of this was happening to me. Fuck. What the fuck am I doing! I am literally sitting down, listening to the people around me who speak a language I don’t understand, having an inner dialogue. What the actual fuck. The hulk in me was asleep and this was the first time it has happened.
I don’t remember the last time I did something I did not like because I would simply say no to dinner if I didn’t feel like it. Unlike many humans, I do not have the inability to say no. I am the master of saying no. Before you start praising my bravery (which, frankly, I don’t see how you possibly could at this point) let me tell you about this situation – how it’s the opposite of how I pictured it to happen.
Inspector: You need to show us the crime scene so we can document it. Do you agree?
I was avoiding this place and I did not even want to be in this hotel and now you want me to come see it?! No way! I’m not doing it!
Me: Yes, I agree.
Inspector: Take a pose, please. You and her.
Uhm, here? In front of the police station? Whatever for???? Say no. You don’t like to do this.
Me: *fixed my hat for a pose*
Inspector: Alright, now let’s go to the first crime scene. You went to the bar and bought wine, correct?
Inspector: Please stand on the bar and point at it.
What???! Really?! You are kidding me. Say no Trisha. This is the most stupid thing. Walk the fuck out and scream at the fucking inspector. Or maybe scream at the organizer for not thinking this is ridiculous. Am I the only one who thinks this is insane??? Hello???
Me: *quietly pointed at the bar while Inspector took a photo*
Bartender: Do you need anything?
Uhm, no, miss. Do you see what these people are doing to me? Do I look like I am having fun and ready to order a drink? I mean, look at me! Okay sorry, that was harsh. Can you please save me from this misery? Give me a chacha shot.
Me: No, thank you. I don’t need anything.
We proceeded to the back door leading to the spa, main entrance of the spa, elevator, pool, and inside the sauna where it all happened, I felt very claustrophobic. I was breathing so deeply and they still shoved me in it for the photo op.
Inspector: Stand here, point there. Fix your hat and make your face more visibe, please.
Just say “I can’t” and leave. Or say no. It’s really that simple. Kick this motherfucker’s ass for asking you to do this.
These people already made me dead inside ever since the beginning. Like a robot, I did all this picture taking and posed in all of it, pointing at each of the crime scenes. More realizations why we don’t report sexual harassment.
Losing yourself in this investigation process does not happen at once. Losing yourself happens one question at a time. It starts with the lightest question. It’s like a snowball on the top of the hill that slowly rolls down until it hits you like an avalanche.
What I felt at this moment: I forgot that this investigation was all about sexual harassment. I was more frustrated with the system and how I was treated. It was really stressful.
You need to point to the man who allegedly harassed you. Do you agree?
No fucking way, sir. I already looked like shit when you asked me to pose for the pictures so we are not doing this. I told the organizer who was with me that I don’t want to do it. She immediately translated it to the inspector.
Fuck this shit. I am so so done. I am fucking complaining. Malala and her friend Anne Frank did not complain because they are way better people than I am. I am going to punch this man in the face if I see him.
Of course, that’s not what happened.
The inspector said they will just show me 4 photos and I have to identify which man was it. It took them about 2 hours to take these pictures. I was free to go to lunch which was very pleasant. Georgian food is still one of the most impressive for me. When the uploads were done, I had to go back to the police station, look at all the pictures, and point at the man on the computer. There were numbers for each photo. I pointed at him, which, surprisingly, I never had any flashbacks or nightmares from this face. My flashbacks are more from the police station.
Police officer: You have to say the number.
Police: Are you sure?
Police: Say you agree.
Me: I agree.
What I felt at this time: Sadness overpowered me. I thought for the years that I am traveling, I was seeing the world. Now I was really SEEING the world. At this time, my rage was not towards the perpetrator but in our justice system.
What do you want to happen to this man?
The exact question was: “do you want this man to go to jail, pay a fine, or do community work?”
“I don’t know. I don’t want to answer this. I just want this to never happen to anyone again.” Deep inside, my real answer was:
I don’t know how to answer this shit. I’ve never been asked to decide what punishment to give to someone. Isn’t that the judge’s job?! Why are you asking me this???
“I am sorry, you have to answer. The judge takes into consideration what the victim would like to happen.” As if I’ll be there on judgment day. I don’t even know if this was going somewhere. I signed a bunch of paperwork (in Georgian) which was translated to me by the organizer of my trip. I have no fucking idea what my rights are in a country where I do not legally reside in. I signed all the docs anyway. It was like a monotonous hand movement. They also asked me to write in English, in every document that I signed: “I read, understand, and agree to the contents of this document as translated to me by the translator.” They even joked that I already memorized this by heart.
I did everything I was asked because I did not have anyone on my side but my blogger friends. I did not have legal representation. I was not asked if I needed one. I just went with it because I trust that the people in charge of bringing me to Georgia will always go in my best interest. That they are on my side.
To be fair, I was asked by another organizer (believe me, there were more organizers than bloggers on this trip) who I prefer to go with me through this – to translate, to be with me, to take care of me. The bloggers went on to continue the trip and I had to stay behind with one of them. I chose Nino (not her real name) because she was the one I felt most comfortable with. She is gentle and kind – I have no bad shit to say about her.
However, she could not relate to my situation because we’ve had a brief conversation about how things like this happen in Georgia. She told me that all her friends are very strong women and do not conform to machismo. I told her she is a local and she is a strong woman – of course, she will be surrounded by the same woman that she is.
My expat sources tell a different story. They are very sure that Georgia is not a safe place for women. I really never felt like this in my past visits here so I dug deeper. On February 10, 2021, a 14-year old Georgian girl committed suicide. The man who abused her was freely walking around her village in Adjara and was also allowed to be in contact with her. The man was only detained and investigated when the girl hanged herself.
Let’s be real. If they can do this to their own people, why would they give a damn to a foreigner like me? My heart breaks for this girl. And it will keep breaking.
I also came across an article from Equality Now. In this article, there were horrifying instances like a woman being told “you don’t look like a decent family girl” when she went to the authorities to report sexual abuse.
Yep. You and me both. I am someone who does not look like a decent family girl. Sure.
From these horror stories, I had a deeper understanding of how cases like this are looked at in this country, which I am sure is also happening in every part of the world. I just need to talk about Georgia because this is where it happened to me. No matter what, our initial reaction is to look away. That’s just who we are and it’s a shame.
Back to when I was asked what I wanted to happen to this man: I did not feel I was in a safe place. I felt how a lot of women who don’t report sexual harassment in the workplace felt. One of the reasons for the very low reports of harassment in workplaces is that women fear jeopardizing their careers. They are afraid they will not be given equal opportunities despite working hard. That’s actually one of my fears in the last part of answering this question: what if I don’t get invited anymore?
I am fucking good at what I do. I’ve worked with many tourism boards. I was never a diva. I was always easy to work with. I go way beyond 100% of what is expected of me. I organize my own blogger trips for tourism boards so I know what it feels like to be on both sides of the spectrum. I keep myself aligned with my beliefs on what content creation and online influence should be all about. I speak about subjects that matter.
At this point, I had to contradict my inner dialogue. I just had to say something nice about me because I am fucking awesome. I felt alone and judging myself was not something I should be doing because everyone is already doing that for me.
I did not understand why I doubted myself for even just a minute here. Since blogging is my work, I had to align that with what women feel in the workplace. It’s the same scenario, only I am not in an office. This trip is actually a workplace for me.
“She’s a diva.” “Oh, she’s going to cause trouble.” Or jokes like “don’t go near her. She will report you.”
Anyway, I had to answer. Guess what: I said community work. Answer me frankly: if you were asked this, what will you say? I was just out of words.
What I felt at this moment: I don’t know how much of my dignity was left. This has made me question myself a lot, which is something I will never ever do.
Once the investigation was over, I was sent to Tbilisi to rest for my 24-hour flight home to Mexico. Tbilisi is a city I know very well and I never actually thought I won’t have the energy to see my Georgian friends while I was there. I also felt hyper-vigilant and wore my deterrent ring all the time. And it worked. I always carry a fake wedding ring when I travel alone because it is effective, especially in regions like this.
I explained to my Georgian friends why I was leaving. That I couldn’t wait in limbo until I actually feel what I needed to feel. “What do you feel?”
I don’t know, I wanted to leave because… I really don’t know. It was an unfathomably complicated organization of thoughts.
One of my Georgian friends who has so much zest for life despite knowing how women are treated in her country told me: “You don’t have to stay, Trisha. You can go back to your home in Mexico whenever you want. You need to do what’s best for you and if going home is something you need, do it. Please remember that this one instance should not change the way you feel about Georgia. You love Georgia!”
Sure. Okay. I feel that too. I’d like that love to fuck off for a moment because this is a great time for yet another red carpet roll for Mexico: In the 3 years I am living there, I never felt unsafe nor harmed. EVER.
So right now, between Mexico and Georgia, I’d choose Mexico in a heartbeat. Ironically, Mexico has more bad press than Georgia, and yet here we are…
I learned there are two types of fear: forget everything and run or face everything and rise. Either way, you are fucked. I chose to face everything because I want to be a vessel of change. Right in front of my face were real images of the unfortunate truths of what happens when you report sexual harassment. It’s a horror story.
I cannot plan, hope, wish, decide, or think about the possibility that one day, we will wake up to the horrific truths of how this is still happening everywhere. If we ever wake up, I would like to live to see that day.
I am not asking you to be an activist, share my story, or even give a damn about this article. Please, if you made it to this article this far, whatever sexual orientation, gender, religion, or race – take a minute and think about your daughters, your sisters, your mothers, your nieces, your grandmothers, your cousins, your friends. What kind of world do you want our girls to live in? Is it still okay for you that our world is so wretched?
This, in the darkest way, gave me the best gift of my life. No matter how tired, beaten, and broken I felt, I was really surprised I had a hell of a strength. I am a fucking strong person. I learned and truly felt what a damn strong woman I am. This, I’ve been told over and over, is what I’ve always been. That it is trailblazing and brave. It’s just different when you actually feel that intense level of strength as opposed to just telling yourself or just listening to other people say it to you.
I could write longer but in my head, all I can think about is “who covers your psychological recovery bills?” “are you supposed to sue them?” “If yes, in which country?”
Above all, “where is the closure in this?” Isn’t that the fucking million-dollar question?