Full Potential 

1st submission — أصواتنا “our voices”

By Nadeen Ashraf

First off, I'd like to wish everyone a Happy New Year because, who are we kidding, 2020 needed to end. Secondly, I want to share an update on the Ahmed Bassem Zaki case that I mentioned in my first post. On December 29th, I received great news: Ahmed Bassem Zaki received a 3 year sentence for harassment and has been charged for raping 3 women by fear or force. And while Zaki’s crimes are deserving of much more than three years behind bars, it’s a start. What’s left is a pending court hearing for another one of his cases which is set to take place on January 9th.

For my first post of 2021, I want to share a submission I received from a dear friend of mine, whose identity shall remain anonymous. She wants to share the story of her assault, to raise awareness about not just what happened to her, but how it made her feel and how it went on to impact her afterwards. So, here's her story:

Basically, my ex boyfriend wanted to see me and catch up. He asked to meet up with me late at night and asked that I come alone. When I arrived, a group of our mutual friends were there, but as the night went on, he asked if we could talk in private. He lured me into a dark, empty area, far away from our friends. Then, he proceeded to approach me, even though I hadn't given him permission or initiated anything. He started kissing me. I kept trying to pull away but he just ignored my attempts. He kept trying to grab my hand and forcing it on his body and I kept trying to pull my hand away from his grasp. I felt so scared, weak, and used, it was like I just shut down. I couldn't fight back.

Finally, I worked up the courage to speak up and reject his advancements but this just seemed to anger him. He got defensive. He started going on about how he is not ‘like other guys’ and kept asking me why I don't trust him and told me to stop being childish. It took me around 10 minutes before I finally pushed away and said, “sorry, I have to go.” I ran away from him. I called my dad while I was in the middle of the street and crying and he didn't even bother to come after me, he just left me, feeling broken.

After it happened, I felt lost. I was scared and I was hurt. But that didn't change the fact that I still held undeniable feelings of love for him. It was so easy for me to forgive and make excuses for him. It tortured me. Moving on without having him acknowledge the way he violated me felt wrong, like the complete opposite of what I should have been doing. I was brainwashed and traumatized.

Over the next couple of years, I was never able to sit in a room with the opposite gender alone without feeling scared that they may force me to do something I didn't feel comfortable doing. Even to this day, I still have an idea in my head that every guy would do this to me. He literally traumatized me. It's been three years and I am still scared to sit in a room alone with a guy.

I have actually never thought of telling my parents. Mainly because they’ll probably ask me questions like, “why did you associate yourself with this kind of person in the first place? why did you meet him at night alone? Why did you lie to us about where you were going?”-I don't want to risk the outcome.

Before we finished talking, my friend has a piece of advice for girls experiencing what she had:

Take care of who you befriend and trust. Seriously. Also, don’t be afraid to tell your friends or ask for help. People who judge you for your past traumas should be punished.

We need to reverse this backwards idea that a woman should be shamed for being assaulted.We need to help survivors, not shun them. Just like my friend, survivors tend to feel alone, helpless and confused after they've been assaulted and the last thing that they need is to feel different or or depreciated.