Turn Desperation into a Change — from a country ranked #120 in gender-gap report

Photo by Wesley Pacífico on Unsplash

“Desperation and unhappiness stretch your whole sensibility.”

– Francis Bacon

Maybe, I envy my friend.

A friend who decided to truly be himself after coming out.

He feared for people leaving him after coming out as a transgender, but he decided to live as he is and now he is launching several new initiatives in his company and community.

#metoo didn’t grow in Japan.

According to a report from Ministry of Justice, 1 out of 10 women experience sexual assault, but 70% do not or cannot report. This is my story.

I often drink with guys, and I can drink a decent amount of alcohol. Always I am able to walk back home by myself. I never got lost even if I’m quite drunk, but on that day I couldn’t even walk by myself because my eyesight was so blurry. Don’t know whether he put some drugs or not.

Since I couldn’t walk by myself, I had to lean on him and he brought me to his apartment. I threw up four times. I had to run into bathroom but could not lock the door because my eyesight was so blurry. Whenever I finished throwing up, he dragged me back to his bed. No glass of water or even a drop of water. Although my eyesight wasn’t working properly, I was completely conscious and remember each single second of the moment up until now.

The next morning, I went back to my apartment and peed. The whole water in the toilet was bloody red. I was not in menstrual period. I was scared but just flushed it, took shower and went to work.

Some people say “go to police” but I couldn’t. Usually police officers are mostly men. I have to explain all the details of what happened, but I didn’t have that energy at all. How can we visit a male-dominant place and describe the details of traumatic experience with a male?

A few days later, I went to get tested for HIV alone. Luckily I was negative and I was relieved, and all flashbacks started. Even if it was a beautiful weather, my eyesight was always grey. If I am bored, these flashbacks often come back, so I prefer working all the time so that there is no space for the flashbacks to come in. I often physically damaged by overwork. If I didn’t overwork, the flashbacks occurred.

We have bunch of laws to protect ourselves, but it’s hard to use.

  1. as this report states, 70% of us do not talk about it to anyone
  2. Shiori Ito won 3.3 million JPY after going through tons of criticism and intimidation for a couple of years
  3. only 4% of the victim report it to police according to the former prosecution, Kazuko Tanaka

Logically we all understand we should sue, at least go to police or support center — but practically we CAN’T.

I used to be a runner, did the same training as boys, and ran faster than the other 50% of boys in the school. I had never felt that vulnerable until the assault.

In 2020 suicide rates among women surged nearly 15%. Some female work as sex workers because they don’t see the other choices. Some of them have been threatened or living in fear all the time. We feel downhearted.

I was completely silent for 5 years after the assault.

After 4 years, I started to read stories of the others. Regardless of the ethnicity, nationality, location or cultural background, I found all of us feel the same.

Once a woman has been raped, she has been destroyed. — Emma

After the 5 years, I started to write about my experience on Twitter anonymously expecting what kind of defamation I’d get. When I tried to speak about it, no word came out from my mouth. Just tears flew.

Surprisingly I got zero defamation. Several Japanese strangers sent sympathy to the anonymous account.

After the 6 years, I finally started to speak about it, but “I was raped” was the only three words that I could say.

Many people left me. Some people tried to talk to me with the utmost care, but soon they didn’t know what to talk with me, and left.

It’s been 7 years now. I decided to speak up as 1 out of 10 women because I know they are keeping silence living with all the flashbacks and fears.

I can feel why women started to kill themselves along with the covid-19 economic downturn because we don’t see much hope.

I know there are laws to protect people, but it can’t be a shield for us all the time. Feeling downhearted, losing all the energy to speak up for years, living a life of quiet desperation — it’s like a dark frustration without any energy attached.

After starting my work as a supporter for international entrepreneurs who need to go through immigration law, I found my strength is not the knowledge that I had. There are so many lawyers who know much more about laws than me.

People come to me probably because I feel the frustration on the same level. Immigration law is a typical law that involves sole discretion of judgement.

I don’t want people to judge me based on whatever the experience or background I have. Because I didn’t choose, and I cannot let go of it.

Going to banks with my clients and talking with real estate agencies for my clients, I prepared to get their instant “No” and confrontation between the norms that has been traditionally accepted and new comers bringing new concepts and ideas.

I am ok with letting go of these people who don’t understand what we go through. A single glance from them is enough for us because we don’t see any reasons to discuss further with a lack of respect.

I decided to write because lately people listen to me. Without having anybody just listening, and feeling that there might be somebody who still support me, I’d need to keep going through the desperation alone.

I decided to post it because international community has better sense of understanding how to react to this unlike some of the Japanese traditional male leaders looking down female as a whole.

But it’s ok if you’re leaving. Please just remember — I did not choose.

If I can say something to the attacker, I’d say “Give me back my twenties.”

Startup Work Inc.