By Shikha Sreenivas
How Revealing is a website that was started to create a safe place for anyone to share experiences of sexual assault and violence. It also aims to legitimise the complex emotions that are triggered by incidents of violence, which are usually not taken seriously even if they are even heard.
The idea behind the name of the website comes from a phrase we hear all too often in instances of sexual assault:“Did you see how revealing her top was? No wonder she was molested!” The website, which was recently started, also aims to serve as a repository to of all the experiences of sexual violence and sexism in India. It was started by a group of young Indians, who choose to remain anonymous for now.
Sexual assault and violence is a taboo across the country. In many cities, women are expected to not talk about it when they are harassed or molested. And when women do speak about it, you can expect the usual reactions: pointing the finger at the victim, shaming, humiliation… Sometimes all we need is to talk and to be listened to — to be able to share experiences of what has happened to us without being dismissed, judged or told we are overreacting. How Revealing aims to create such a space.
I have an old friend, who recently told me about how she had been harassed as a child. She didn’t suffer any physical harm, but a man kept sending her vulgar messages scrawled on a piece of paper. When she tried telling a teacher, they told her to not make a big issue out of it. So she shut up, she shut up for years and years. And this is what most women have to do — they’re expected not to make “a big issue” out of it. But it affected her more than the man or the teacher could ever imagine — it affected her self image and was the root of a lot of her shame.
Sexual violence is never about sex, it is about power — it is how men assert their dominance through humiliation and pain, so of course any experience of sexual violence does have a deep impact on us. And to speak and to be listened to without judgement, is the minimum level of catharsis a woman should be able to get, which is what the website aims to do.
Visit the website to read or share your own experiences with sexual assault or violence, regardless of where you’re from or which gender you are, and regardless of whether you have been at the receiving end or have seen it happen to someone — because violence is violence, and it is time to acknowledge the complex ways in which it can affect us.