By Mariel Abanes
It happens—and it can happen to anyone. It can happen to you. You can cross the same street every day and have the same random guys catcall you. You can be commuting home in public transport and feel a hand brush up your thigh. In any case, sexual harassment is a grave violation, leaving victims traumatized after an encounter. The recent case of University Sto. Tomas student Yssa Celestino once again trained everyone's eyes on this issue, drawing thousands of reactions through her brother’s Facebook post rehashing the incident. While they are still in court fighting for the suit, it’s time that you know what to do if you ever come across an unwelcome offender.
1. Speak up. For some, it’s tempting to have a go at your offenders at once without thinking the situation through, but before doing anything, make sure that you’re in a safe location (better if you have companions or you are in a public area). Breathe in and try to calmly confront the person of their offense. If you’re the type who stays quiet, this time, don’t. Stand up and call attention to what happened. You don't have to be helpless. You can speak up!
2. Reach out to people you trust. Open up to your family about what happened—it will help you overcome whatever trauma you might have from your experience.
3. Seek for help. If the case escalates further, know the groups you can reach out to, like the Philippine Commission on Women (+632-7365249 or +632-7367712) and GABRIELA (firstname.lastname@example.org).
4. Spread awareness. Don’t just forget about it. You can help other girls by making them aware what they can do and how they can deal with sexual harassment. No matter if you're wearing something simple or skimpy, if you’re girly or boyish, shy or loud, it's not your fault if you've fallen victim to a sexual predator.
ALSO READ: Cheat Sheet: What To Do When A Stranger Catcalls