A few years ago, I had a major ant problem in my apartment. Thankfully, they were confined to a few specific areas but they caused me a lot of anxiety and stress. Nothing I did worked. So I told the apartment manager.
What did she do?
She told me having ants in the apartment was part of living in an apartment and that nothing could be done. She said it was no big deal. She wasn’t going to do anything.
I was hurt. I felt disrespected and helpless because she did not take me seriously or care what I had to say.
Eventually, she did call an exterminator to come and spray but only AFTER somebody else said something. And I still felt that she didn’t care. I had been dealing with the problem for a significant period of time and her ignoring my request for help told me my voice and concerns did not matter.
So now, any time I see ants in my apartment I feel those feelings again. Thankfully, it is just a few and they go away after a shirt few days. But I still get stressed out seeing them. I don’t hate ants but their presence reminds me of not being heard, about not being taken seriously, about having my voice silenced because it wasn’t something she wanted to hear.
That particular apartment manager was a major problem and I suffered stress, anxiety, and threats from her. She even threatened to evict me if I didn’t quit my job and find another. Trust me, the situation was bad and she had no legal right to do anything to me.
Thankfully that manager and that set of problem neighbors are gone.
So I have a much better apartment manager now and the neighbors still coukd be better. But I’m still leery of asking for them to come and deal with anything. I do my best to keep my head down and be quiet. It may not make me any friends but I feel safer, if only marginally.
I won’t get hurt.
Why write about this? Simple.
A victim telling their story about abuse and being heard and believed is important. Too many people want to silence the voices of victims because it is not what they want to hear. By silencing victims’ voices, the abusers are given tacit approval for their actions and acceptance and it implies that somehow the victim is at fault. Silencing minimizes the effects of abuse and how dangerous and harmful abuse really is.
Silence says abuse is okay. It says the victim is a liar and making things up. It denies reality. These are lies.
Victims need to be able to feel safe, to be able to tell their story in their own way and time, to be believed and taken seriously, and to have support and healing. Victims are people, too.