“I Called Him Out For Sexually Assaulting Me; He Didn’t Apologise & Slut Shamed Me Instead”

*T/W: Article contains details of sexual assault. Reader discretion is advised.

 

The global #MeToo movement has given people a way to share painful accounts of how they have been molested and assaulted, with the promise of solidarity from other men and women who have gone through the same. This is also what has happened with Amanda, a Malaysian Political Science student studying at the University of Toronto. Amanda has come forward with her story and spoken to us at Likely about why she decided to publically call out her assailant.

“There shouldn’t be a need for a story to be ‘impactful’ for it to be brought to justice. No one should have to think their story is too little or too big because they are all equally inhumane and unjustifiable. I think the one thing that really hit hard was the realisation that I wasn’t in this situation alone and that there are so many other victims out there that need to be heard. Whatever happened to us was beyond our control and we did not ask for it; we did not (and do not) deserve the way we were mistreated. All victims deserve justice at the end of the day and perpetrators need to start owning up to their wrongdoings and start taking responsibility for it.”

 

Why did you decide to call him out?

I was scrolling Twitter while having my morning coffee when I noticed a series of tweets from people highlighting the issue of sexual assault. I then came across a Twitter thread where people were sharing their accounts and experiences. I read through it and I started feeling “off” and unsettled. I felt all the feelings that I experienced from the night of assault flooding back. The feelings of shame, guilt, worthlessness, sadness, anger and more. I tried shaking it off as it’s been a year and a half since I was assaulted. I thought I had already moved on as I have not shied away or stopped interacting with men since. However, the emotions that I felt that morning gave me the urge to say my piece and find closure. When I initially tweeted, I didn’t give it much thought since I was tweeting to my 59 followers with my private account.

 

What happened leading up to this incident?

 

I knew of him because we were in the same high school – not the same grade or anything. We didn’t have any classes together and we had no pre-existing relationship. What happened on the 12th of January 2019 was that I’d come home to Malaysia for a week and a half (I study in Toronto). There was so much that I wanted to do after not being home for so long. One of my friends had texted me that night, to ask if I wanted to go out. I said, “Honestly, why not?”. It was with a group of friends that I’ve known since I was like 14/15. I didn’t question my safety.

We went to Bounce in Tropicana, PJ, and he and a bunch of his friends were there. We all hung out (my group of friends and his) because of our affiliation to the same high school but it was my first time actually mingling with them. Throughout the night, he kept trying to make conversation with me but I wasn’t entertaining it. I don’t want to sound superficial but I’m literally 5’9 and this man is tiny. I had zero interest and also, I was focused on hanging out with my friends. At one point, we moved to closer to the beer pong tables. I wasn’t playing (because I’m bad at it) but I stayed closeby to chill and just go with the vibe on the side.

I remember this, clear as f****** day. He came up to me and said, “You look so hot today”. Again, I ignored this because I had zero interest. After he said that, he – I don’t even know how to put this in words, it happened so fast – but the next thing I knew, when he stood next to me, he put his finger up my vagina. There’s no other way for me to word it. He fingered me, by the beer pong table, with everyone else around. I want to reiterate this: it was very clear throughout the night – because I know people are going to be like “what was she wearing”, “maybe she was drunk”- that I was not interested. Even my friends have clearly stated that they remember me brushing him off the entire night.

I acknowledge the fact that I was not 100% sober which is normal, you can’t blame me on that because we’re all friends here on a night out – obviously, I’m drinking. But I know for a fact that I was only a few drinks in. I was not blackout drunk and I remember everything that happened. I clearly remember him sticking his finger up my vagina and thinking, “what the f*** just happened”. I dragged my girl friend out and I told her that I needed to leave. I told her what happened and I still remember how every single cell in my body felt in that moment. As I told her what happened, I was shaking and breaking out into a cold sweat. The feeling of disgust and that I was “dirty”, from that one incident… I have never felt dirtier in my life. I felt like my body was not mine anymore and I felt disrespected and degraded in so many ways. Right after the incident, I just wanted to forget it happened, I drank to the point of extreme intoxication. I took multiple showers because I felt so filthy and helpless. It’s as if I thought showering would wash away the pain and shock that I had experienced.

While I did not reach out to him personally afterwards (I was still in disbelief and trying to process it), my friend who was with me the entire night reached out to his friends and told them about it. One of his friends reached out to me via direct messaging on Instagram and apologised in his place. I responded that I was fine and that they should look out for his misbehaviours and to talk to him. The response that I sent, I still regret it to this day. I know that it came from a place of… just wanting to avoid the situation, to avoid reliving it. His friend said that he’d speak to him about it but to this day, nothing has come of it. Now that I’ve made this story public, he’s come out to refute what happened and – sadly – accuse me of chasing “clout” (influence or power). 

 

 

It’s not easy telling a story like this. Have you been receiving support for it?

 

One of the reasons that I’ve made it so far with being comfortable with my story being so publicised is because of the support that I have from my friends and family. However, there has been as much criticism as there has been support. Because I called him out so publicly on social media (on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook), I’d received a ton of people questioning my experience. And, I get it – no one wants to believe that a family member, a friend or an acquaintance is capable of sexual assault. But for strangers to claim that all I want is “monetary compensation”?

 

Why would I want to be known as the girl who got fingered by the beer pong table? This is not for clout. Why would I fake a story for a reputation that isn’t even positive?

Not only that, because more than a year has passed, but the question that keeps coming up is also, “Why now”? They think that just because I’m not in Malaysia, it should mitigate the way I feel about the issue. No. It doesn’t matter if it happened 2 days, 2 weeks or 2 years ago – assault is assault. When you do that to someone, it stays. My intentions have honestly been for a) the fact that I needed closure and b) for people to know that this happens, even when people think they are safe with friends. When I go home, for 2 out of 52 weeks in the year, I don’t even feel comfortable or like I can do what I want to do. The fact that it’s come down to me not feeling safe in a place I call home – that s***’s f***** up. I thought about it and realised – someone has to do it. Someone has to f****** do it.

 

And now that I have… I don’t know what I was expecting from him – an apology maybe? – but definitely not what I got from him instead.

 

 

 

 

Now, I can’t comment on his “explanation” per se on Facebook (for reasons of legality) but I think it’s self-explanatory. It’s blatant slut-shaming and victim-blaming. I know that it was only 3-5 seconds of my life but when something like that happens to you, regardless of where you come from, assault is assault. ‘No’ means ‘no’ and if you don’t know what no means, get a dictionary. The atrocity of any form of sexual assault is unacceptable and the trauma that follows after is a dark and scary path. It breaks my heart that he gets to go to bed and shut his eyes peacefully, without thinking about the hurt and damage he’s caused for so many people. After going public, I’ve received so many messages from complete strangers across the globe of their experiences and accounts of being sexually assaulted by the same person. It was a roller coaster of emotions as I cried for them and I got really pissed for them; for the fact that he got away with this for so long. It’s just the degree of how f***** up it is. You have to see these messages. You literally need to see them. I am disgusted.

 

 

 

I don’t think there’s one singular word that could sum up what I and many other victims feel when things like this happen. I still think about it because… it sometimes just arises. I was fortunate enough that shortly after the incident, I left for Toronto again for the new school year. It was definitely easier being away from Malaysia and being removed from the reality that I experienced while being in Malaysia. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for these other victims, with nowhere to go. It’s so difficult to talk about it because – again – no one wants to believe you. Some of the criticism that I’ve received – and have still been receiving – were extremely upsetting. Even though I know in my mind that these are groundless and false accusations, it’s difficult to not take them to heart. I’ve had to take days off (after going public with this) where I’ve I logged out from all my social media accounts in an attempt to regain some form of normalcy. But at the end of the day, this is my truth and my story and you cannot silence me. 

 

 

 

What’s going to happen now?

 

My family, who is based in Malaysia, are currently looking into our options and what we could do. But, the one advice that I’ve been carrying with myself is that ‘everything works in its own time and that there is no one “right” way to go about a matter as sensitive as this – there is no one right timeline for anybody. It took me over a year and a half to finally come out with my story and in that time, I needed to process and to think things through. This, however, doesn’t mean that a year and a half is the “right time frame” to come out just because this was what I personally needed. It could take someone less or more and there is nothing wrong with that. I came out in a public way, by dragging him and blowing things up on social media because in my mind, that was my only option (with me living abroad and no means to go back to Malaysia right now). What I did was based on my personal choice and there’s no blueprint to this. For some, it might work better for them to privately talk to their loved ones and that is just as valid. I have found to be extremely useful is to look into local women support groups and organisations. These organisations include The Women’s Aid Organisation and SE(SH); both offer support, advice and have actually reached out to me personally, which has been such a crucial part when it comes to feeling supported. Just remember that what you have to say and share will always be followed by support and love. 

 

 

 

 

Over a third of Malaysian women have been sexually harassed, with 59% of this harassment being in the form of sexual assault. This troubling statistic only represents 53% of people who have come forward with their stories of assault and harassment. 47% of Malaysians who experience sexual harassment do not report their experience because they are too embarrassed, they don’t believe anyone will be able to do anything about it or they fear the repercussions of talking about these incidents. Why do they feel this way? Well, it’s common (especially in Asian countries) for people to shame and vilify victims of sexual assault (‘victim-blaming’) by questioning what they were wearing as well as the situation (where they were, who they were with, what time they were out, etc). If you are subject to any sort of abuse or assault, it is important to talk to someone and seek help – you are not alone. You (both men & women may seek help) can also reach out to the following hotlines:

1. Women’s Aid Organization – +6037957 5636
2. Women’s Centre For Change (Penang) – 04228 0342
3. Malaysian Police –  032031 9999
4. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM) – 037877 0224
5. Sisters In Islam (Telenisa Helpline) – 037960 8802

 

 

*Cover image credits:
Man silhouette: Photo by Craig Whitehead on Unsplash
POST A COMMENT