Anonymous student (master in Media Studies)
“A year and a half ago, my flatmate stalked me and I reported that to the police. They said they couldn’t do anything about it because nothing had happened. The intimidation and the threats I was subjected to didn’t count. I was at the end of my tether when I heard that. So, I understand perfectly well why women are not so keen to report undesirable behaviour.
Where to go for support in the event of sexual harassment, aggression or bullying
Martin Blok, who coordinates the university’s network of confidential advisers,…
“The stalking started during the time of corona. A flatmate said he was lonely, so I tried to help him by chatting to him on a regular basis. The situation quickly escalated -he was constantly texting and calling me when I wasn’t home. He literally started following me everywhere. I hesitated then and thought: ‘Am I crazy or am I really being stalked?’ One night I found him sneaking into my room and reading my diary. I was so angry, so I decided to go for a walk to cool down. I walked for two hours, from 12pm to 2am – and he followed me then too!
“The stalking turned into physical violence. At one point, he got angry with me and pushed me up against a wall. I saw that something snapped inside him then, as if he suddenly realised that he had crossed a line. I called the police again. This time, they gave him a warning. He moved away not long after that.”*
*This student is sharing her story anonymously for safety reasons. Her name is known to the editors.
Jeroen (first year Economics and Law) and Floris (third year Economics and Business Economics)
Jeroen: “I watched the broadcast of BOOS with all of my housemates on the couch, eight guys and a friend of a housemate. It was pretty heavy; you wonder if it could stay so well hidden for such a long time on a show like that, where else could it happen?
“It makes you think about your own behaviour. You stop and think about whether what you are doing is normal. Obviously, you don’t want to hurt anyone.”
Floris: “It’s sometimes difficult to establish where the boundary lies, because what is okay for someone, someone else might find shocking. I do understand that it is best to ask explicitly for consent, but that doesn’t always happen.”
Jeroen: “No, that’s true. Usually not if you’ve been together with someone for a long time or if she takes the initiative.”
Floris: “Yes, it doesn’t have to come from one side.”
Jeroen: “But if you notice that someone seems a bit hesitant or reluctant, then you should ask them that question, of course.”
Floris: “It is true that men are not that vulnerable. Being pinched in the bum by a stranger has happened to me too, but otherwise, I set my boundaries very clearly.”
Last week, the online show BOOS — meaning ‘angry’ in Dutch — reported that dozens of women candidates experienced sexual abuse during their participation in the Dutch talent show The Voice of Holland. The claim ranged from allegations of rape to sexually tinted WhatsApp messages by two coaches and the band leader. The Dutch public was shocked as a few very prominent artists were pointed to as the suspects.
Appollonia (Master in Media and Journalism)
“When I was younger, I found it difficult to set clear boundaries. You might have said no, but if the other person kept on going, you soon thought: ‘Oh, that’s probably my fault. Maybe I should just let it happen’. Undesirable behaviour is, of course, very subtle; sometimes you do give your consent, but afterwards you realise that you didn’t really want to. I’m not saying that the other person always bears the blame: it’s about what you want and how you communicate that.
“When you’re having sex with someone, you might think it’s not so sexy to ask, ‘Is this OK?’ or ‘Do you like this?’ But I can say from personal experience that it is actually really nice to do that.
“If I ever encounter any behaviour that crosses the line, I would prefer to seek help outside the university, even though I know I can go to, for instance, my student advisor.”
Transgressive behaviour is also a structural problem at the EUR, which is why it is important to report it
Vertrouwenspersoon Martin Blok roept medewerkers en studenten op om grensoverschrijdend…
Sarah and Lina (first year Economics & Business Economics)
Sarah: “As a woman, it is at any rate scary to live in a big city like Rotterdam. The Netherlands is a relatively safe country, but sexual harassment happens everywhere. I don’t even feel safe when I walk to the metro at 7pm after our last lecture. The campus is so dark and I never see any security guards around anywhere.”
Lina: “We women are so used to taking precautions so that we won’t be harassed – by not walking alone in the evening, staying with your friends when you go out, that sort of thing. Being pinched in the bum when you are clubbing is, unfortunately, the most normal thing in the world. Apart from that, you also have to deal with victim blaming. Whatever happens, women are always to blame. I know that we are doing our best to raise awareness and emphasise that it is not okay. But right now, sexual harassment is still a daily reality for women. Sad, but true.”
The Sexual Assault Center offers help to anyone who has experienced an unwanted sexual experience. You can chat or call them for free and anonymously at 0800-0188.
The university has confidential advisors for employees and students to whom you can report transgressive behavior. They will listen to your story and can help and refer you. There is also a complaints procedure for undesirable behavior.