As a teenager, I experienced psychological and physical violence daily in my home. As my big brother, who was the cause of the most incidents, claimed: “where reason doesn’t prevail, the law of the powerful prevails." When he got angry, he would push us against the doors, twist our arms, pull our hair, and threaten us, by sticking his face in ours. My mother used to excuse him and would usually blame me: that I had caused it, and that I had to apologise. It took me a while to realise that the violence at home was not my responsibility.
My father went through a phase during which he was psychologically unwell. During those years, he also became violent towards us. He could not handle us when we were disobedient. I vividly remember one day when I spoke back to him when he told me to wash the dishes, and he forced me to get on all fours and crawl around, threatening that if I got up he would beat me up. He often uttered to me were some like "you are nothing but my fart" or "you are a gob of spit" or “you’re just a doormat for me step on".
But I never thought that there was domestic violence in my house, because it’s not as if I would come out of it with a black eye or a broken rib. Just as I never considered myself a victim of sexual harassment, because it’s not as if my coworker/friend had raped me. He just took me to a secluded place, forcibly opened my legs and rode me, while I was telling him no. At some point he stopped, though. So I thought, this cannot be harassment.
It took me a while to figure some things out. I don’t know how active I am in the fight against gender-based violence. I still struggle with guilt and doubt. But I am happy for the ever increasing mass mobilisation; I get strength from it to interpret my experiences and to support other women who have experienced similar things.