Men seem to find me easy to sexually harass, and I can’t stand it

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a homemaker in my 30s. I’ve been a target of being hit on and sexually harassed, so I want to change myself.

Since I was a student, I’ve been hit on and sexually harassed on the street. When addressed by strangers, I listen to what they say because they might be in some sort of trouble.

But then they might suddenly grab my hand or put their arm around my waist. I’m sure they look down on me and think I’m an easy woman.

Just the other day when I was resting for a moment with my 2-year-old daughter while we were out, a stranger suddenly asked about my looks and my sex life with my husband, making me feel uncomfortable.

But I couldn’t say, “Stop it, please,” because I feared he might harm my daughter, so we left the place almost as if running away.

I hate it from the bottom of my heart when thinking that these people always look down on me. I don’t want to be spoken to by these people ever again.

I’m intentionally careful about my attitude and the way I speak, but maybe I’m unconsciously showing a lack of confidence or low self-esteem. What should I do to make myself appear stronger?

W, Aichi Prefecture

Dear Ms. W:

Some people are easy to talk to or ask favors of. We can call them friendly people, and I think you have that kind of atmosphere.

Such people need to make clear the distance between them and others. When strangers talk to you, and you respond to them out of impulse, they feel they can get closer to you. They then don’t hesitate to invade your emotions.

The anxiety and lack of confidence you feel becomes a draw for men who want to ridicule, trouble or play around with women. Despicable men tend to speak to women who appear less confident and weaker than them.

Before going out, give your emotions a pep talk. “I won’t be underestimated. I won’t be taken lightly. I can drive away despicable men.” Why don’t you give it a try?

Friendliness is at its heart a beautiful thing. I think the only other thing you need is to have confidence that you will not let anyone that you don’t want anything to do with enter your life.

Junko Umihara, psychiatrist

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 1, 2022)