Back in my native country school transportation was usually arranged by a private ‘school bus’ – independent operators who would pick up and drop off students using a big van. When I was in year 1 or 2 I would be picked up earlier as school would finish at around 1pm. One day while on the way home the driver pulled aside, hugged me and kissed me three times. He did this a couple of times. I didn’t really understand what he was doing and so never said anything to my parents (I still haven’t told them until now). It was only years later that I found out what he did was sexual harassment, but by then I had already moved to New Zealand.
Years later when I was 22 I was running to my bus stop on Albert Street (near Ichiban) to catch my bus at 6.15pm. While I was catching my breath this guy came up to me and startled me. He said “why are you scared? don’t be scared” and hugged me. As I was so tired I didn’t really push him away. We began making polite talks and he told me he’s currenlty studying in AUT as an international student for a year or two. I was feeling increasingly uncomfortable as he seems to be getting closer but I didn’t want to appear impolite.
When his bus came he was urging me to follow him but I told him I’m catching a different bus. Then he gave me another hug and tried to kiss me. Automatically I moved my head away but he held my head and tried to force kissed me, saying “it’s just a kiss”. Eventually he went away and I stood there, frozen.
After the incident I kept on thinking what I could’ve done differently. I should’ve shouted. I should’ve pushed him away. I should’ve told him to f*** off. But I didn’t. I now understand what it felt like to feel completely powerless. When people commented “why didn’t the girl push the guy away if she doesn’t want to be harrased?” they are speaking out of ignorance. And that’s totally unacceptable.
No one knew the real story – I told my family and friends I pushed him away before he could kiss me. Telling them the truth made me feel like it’s my fault, like I’m the dirty one for accepting his advances. I wanted to file a complaint but there was not enough evidence and I’m pretty sure it was going to be dismissed anyway.
Victims to sexual assault should NOT be made to feel guilty about what they’ve experienced. Society needs to move away from the victim blaming attitude.