Highland women are sharing their experiences of domestic abuse and sexual harassment as part of a 16 day global campaign of awareness and activism.
The stories are being posted on the Change Her Story website, in response to an idea by youth activist group, Stand Up.
Declarations of what people want to see changed for women girls are also being posted at #changeherstory
The Highland testimonies so far include insights from abuse survivors, a support worker and numerous women who have suffered sexual harassment.
A survivor writes: “The abuser (male or female) habitually uses an arsenal of ‘weapons’ including emotional, financial, and psychological abuse.
“Physical abuse plays a key role in discovery but most in refuge would agree that the additional elements, commonly perceived as less of a problem, are emotionally catastrophic and can drive victims to self-harm or suicide.
“It’s about isolation and control. Isolating you from your support system.
“On average, a victim of domestic abuse makes seven unsuccessful attempts to leave and many years of suffering in silence before ‘getting out.”
Stories of sexual harassment have also been pouring in, ranging from tales of whistling, catcalls and groping to grooming by older men, rape and sexual assault.
The victims express shame and embarrassment, and longer term anxiety, panic attacks, nightmares and even suicide attempts.
A rape victim says: “We emphasise teaching girls not to get themselves into vulnerable states, not to walk home alone or go out with men they don’t know, we tell them to cover themselves up because they’re ‘asking for it’.
“Everyone asks why I didn’t scream/shout/run. Nobody asks what made him think that was acceptable.”
Another says: “I was groomed from age 13.
“A man 30 years my senior took an unhealthy interest in me.
“I was flattered, he started sexually abusing me not long after, I am embarrassed to say that it went on for nearly three years.
“Unfortunately I started with anxiety in my late teens and I blame him for it.
“I am 46 now and haven’t worked for years because of panic attacks and anxiety.”
Harrowing testimony also comes from a support worker in a rape crisis centre, who explains what it’s like to do her job.
She writes: “It’s feeling great anger and sadness about what some people do to others.
“It’s feeling outraged at society for facilitating and covering up abuse.
“But overwhelmingly, it’s feeling thankful.
“Thankful to be part of a movement that fights back against ‘rape culture’ and supports survivors.
“Thankful to be trusted by a survivor to walk alongside them in their healing journey.”
Gwen Harrison, manager of Rape and Sexual Abuse Service Highland (RASASH) said:
“Our youth activist group, StandUp, wanted to create a platform for survivors to speak out safely and anonymously about their experiences.
“The responses are a sobering and stark reminder of how sexual violence affects people in our communities.
““We believe that everyone has a part to play in ending gender-based violence and that this starts with greater awareness of the issue.”
If you or someone you know has been affected by the issues discussed, support is available. RASASH can contacted via its support line 03330 066909 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays 09:30 – 12:30 and Tuesdays and Thursdays 13:30 – 16:30. Rape Crisis Scotland can be contacted every day from 6pm till midnight on 08088 01 03 02.