Celine: making noise

I have to do long commutes every day and after a long working day, my concentration usually decrease, making it more difficult for me to find my way. So I’m always happy when people help me. One day, a man offered to guide me on my way to the station, which I accepted thankfully. What irritated me was that he immediately linked our arms. At first I ignored that strange feeling. The man was very friendly and seemed helpful. On our way we discussed a current political scandal at the town hall. We arrived very fast at the train station, and then he started patting my hand and interrogating me if I had a friend or was married. I was feeling frightened and disgusted. Then I remembered our self-defence class and that it was important to act and make noise. I gathered my courage and yelled : « This man is molesting me ! The man beside me harasses me. » Again and again, many times. First I felt uncomfortable, but after the second or third time, I realised that I felt prouder and braver. The men let me go very quickly and I was surprised. As I cannot see, I don’t know where he went. Several people came and offered their help, and I caught the train. Even if my knees were trembling afterwards, I felt great because I managed to fight for myself and my dignity.

Fatima: the limits

My mother had a new partner and I could not read his lips, nor understand him when he talked. Each time I asked him to speak more slowly and clearly, he laughed and made fun of me, so I would leave the room. One day, I decided not to go back to my mother’s place. She complained that I never visited anymore so I told her to meet at my place because I didn’t want to see her partner. Then I told her that if she wanted me to visit her again, she needed to explain to her partner that his behaviour was not ok. My mother finally talked to him and when I visited again, he behaved better.

Marisa: my father-in-law

My father-in-law never accepted that I was deaf, and so when I went to visit him, he used to talk to me when I wasn’t looking, or called me out from far away as if I was able to hear. So I decided to ignore him as long as he didn’t tap on my shoulder or didn’t make the effort to behave appropriately to enable me to communicate. My husband didn’t feel comfortable with the situation and held me responsible, but I thought that my father-in-law’s behaviour was disrespectful and so I continue to act like I did.

Selma: out and about

One time, I went out with my friends. At night, on my way home, four men followed and attacked us. I was the only woman in the group, and I told them that I would call the police. As I was dialling, one of the attackers said: “you want me to hurt you?”. I answered no and he said: “Then shut up!”, pushed me on the ground and spit in my face. I got back up and yelled so loud and for such a long time that they went away and left us alone. The neighbours heard me and called the police.

Jana: bus to school

Once, I missed the bus to go to school. But I had a test that day and didn’t want to be late. So I tried to hitch a ride. A van stopped, and the driver seemed “normal”. I showed him the direction where I wanted to go with my arm, telling him where I wanted to go. He said that he needed to stop to get petrol and stopped in an empty garage. I tried to make him understand that I was in a hurry and signed « straight ahead ». He touched my breast, stuck out his tongue and showed me his penis. So I pushed back his hand and continued signing authoritatively « straight ahead, hurry up, I’ve got a test ! ». Finally, he drove me to school. I ran inside and started crying and told my story, and my test was postponed. 

Fatima: “It’s over, get out!

When I was 15, my boyfriend used to force me to have sex with him. So I discovered a trick:  every time he tried to force himself on me, I would punch my knee against his groin and pretend I didn’t do it on purpose. Usually, he would stop then. But once, as I did so, he started to hit me and wouldn’t let me leave. So I went to my father, and together we told my boyfriend, “it’s over, get out!” I felt ashamed but I had been looking for a solution for a long time already.