The moment a girl becomes a woman: a story of psychological abuse - Part 1
I observed women around me falling over and over again. I did not think that at some point in my life I might fall too.
Reading time: 4 minutes
From a very young age, I listened to stories about powerful women. Encouraged by the words of my mother, I grew up with the perception that I should never let anything or anyone break me. In my mind, I carried an image of how an independent woman should look: a woman who stands on her feet and faces every obstacle and enemy.
Growing up, I slowly began to understand that life is neither a fairy tale nor a film of empowered women in a male-dominated space. I observed women around me falling over and over again, no matter how hard they tried. However, I did not let this clip the wings of my own aspirations and dreams. Most importantly, I did not think that at some point in my life I might fall too. I had yet to realize that the glamorized image in my mind did not reflect reality.
Many have tried to warn me–and they still do–that the field of politics in which I want to work in is male-dominated. When I started working with my organization, I was quite pro-active. Due to my naïveté and lack of awareness of the industry, I ended up ignoring various red flags—something we tend to do when we are excited and frightened at the same time. This is especially true in situations with unequal relationships where one party holds a position of power and authority.
The world of powerful people in suits, political discourses and public engagement enchanted me early on in my student years. I took every opportunity that came my way, without taking into account that some things are “given on your plate” more easily than is actually the case. I believed that I was on the right path, as I perceived each given opportunity as a step closer to my dreams. Of course, each step also came with its own challenges, but I took those as for granted and normal, as later I would receive the prize I earned. Or so I thought.
No one warned me that these difficulties would include manipulative, patronizing, and sexist attitudes. I assumed that for each step taken, I would have a "mentor" looking after me, showing me what is right and wrong, ethical and unethical. And most importantly, I accepted judgmental words as ordinary within that space; as “just the way it's done.”
From bitter comments about my appearance and my femininity, to the fact that with a strong and extroverted personality people said that I would give “everything in my power” in order to get what I wanted, all those terrible words I merely understood as an innocent "teasing" and "friendly advice."
After a while, it dawned on me that the advice of my “mentor” was not always legitimate. I started to take initiatives on my own, following the path I had mapped out myself, without always asking for specific advice. I did not want to fit into the mold someone else had created.
But this became a turning point in my life, which unfortunately I had not predicted. I was expected to always do my best, but never to surpass my “mentor.” I did not know how bad it would become.
 Due to potential backlash, the name of the organization has been omitted.
How does this story make you feel?
Talk about this Story
Please enable cookies to view the comments powered by Disqus.
Subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter
Stay up to date with new stories on Correspondents of the World by subscribing to our monthly newsletter:
A story by Hajar Lassiliya
You may wonder what is it like to be a woman who lives in a country that lacks security?
A story by Pabita Timilshina
If I had one wish, it would be for girls to be free, free to choose what they want to become, not to be dominated by men. Women to have their own voice without being ashamed of what society might think. Our place is not just in the kitchen or to have babies, we have our own lives. I wished for everyone to have the same rights.
A story by Hal Fulcher
With so much recent acceptance of the idea of sexuality being a spectrum, the fact bisexual men even feel the need to defend our very existence seems very quaint in 2020.
At Correspondents of the World, we want to contribute to a better understanding of one another in a world that seems to get smaller by the day - but somehow neglects to bring people closer together as well. We think that one of the most frequent reasons for misunderstanding and unnecessarily heated debates is that we don't really understand how each of us is affected differently by global issues.
Our aim is to change that with every personal story we share.
Correspondents of the World is not just this website, but also a great community of people from all over the world. While face-to-face meetings are difficult at the moment, our Facebook Community Group is THE place to be to meet other people invested in Correspondents of the World. We are currently running a series of online-tea talks to get to know each other better.