Looking back and moving forward…
I published this personal experience story in September 2016 on my previous blog. It seems like a lifetime ago - so much in my life has changed. The way I think about travel. How I experience travel now. How much my past has haunted me and overcoming it.
When this story was published, it was the largest traffic story on my wordpress site ever. Over 50,000 single user visits within a day and hundreds of comments. These comments ranged from supportive women and men who've either experienced or witnessed my story to verbal threats and abuse.
Yes, as much as it was amazing to hear my story gave comfort to others, it simply wasn't enough to keep the story alive. Year after year I would still get threats and verbal abuse. At one point an individual created a site with my photo asking visitors to rate whether or not I was too ugly to be raped. Yes. I am so horrific looking that no one would possibly want to rape me. So I must be lying. Right?
I couldn’t take the vulgar threats. Being called a whore. White trash. Ugly. I took the story down and went about my life. I had moved to Canada and at first I was very hesitant around men. I'd almost forgotten you can be near them and they won't just grab you sexually. If they buy you a drink they don't expect sex in return (most of the time). It was a strange new world and it took adjusting.
It wasn't my first time for sexual attacks while travelling, but it was constant during my year in Georgia. I would make the joke that I used to be able to count the number of times I was attacked travelling on one hand before Georgia. Like those other times weren't as bad somehow.
However, since I published this story in 2016 the world has changed. I have changed. Georgia has not and many countries continue to impact our lives and travel. #metoo burst onto social media, it seemed every single woman has been assaulted or abused at one point in their life. I couldn't believe it.
So as I created my new site, bringing all my content over. I wanted to start with this story. My biggest one. But with a new introduction, almost a new empowered lease on life. To stop being afraid. Speak up to let everyone know they're not alone. It's systemic. It's inevitable. Fight back. Make it public.
Before I continue on with the original story I wanted to give some accounts over my life that had made me fearful of men, fearful of affection and often more and more brash.
I grew up in a very plastic party town in Australia and all of my friends were roofied (drugged) when out clubbing. The general practice was taught to buy only drinks with small openings so no one could slip in a drug without you seeing it. But it always seemed to happen. I remember thinking, what’s wrong with me? Am I not pretty enough to be roofied?
It’s a shocking thought to think of. At the time I was a very awkward virgin who had the lowest self esteem, literally teased my entire early life for freckles, glasses, braces and just general ugliness. My self esteem so low, I thought I was being rejected by men who roofied girls. I thought only pretty girls got roofied.
It’s incredible that as a girl I was more jealous of my friends getting roofied because they were pretty than concerned for their safety. Being roofied was ‘funny’ and almost meant someone liked you. Not the best place to get good ideals of romantic behaviours entering into womanhood.
My first travel encounter was when I was 14 in Mexico. I walked into a shop to look at something on the wall and was immediately grabbed from behind. Pushed up against the wall, one hand on my almost non-existent breasts the other hand on my genitals. My immediate response was to escape. And I did. I never told anyone and I never yelled or screamed.
Later when I was 19, I was walking home in Spain from a night out, again I was grabbed from behind. This time smashed into the wall and my head was bleeding. I elbowed them in the face, and ran, not looking back. I didn't make a sound. I never told anyone.
These themes continued in other countries. Being grabbed or pushed against a wall or to the ground. But if they wanted to restrain me, they could. I mean I'm not physically strong. Were they just ‘testing out the waters’ to see if I wanted to hook up?
As I got older, my younger trusting and explorative nature became more aware of situations. Walking down the street in Scotland to my home with men standing outside of a pub would make me cross the road with headphones in and no music playing, wondering what I could use as a weapon if need be. Heart racing, hoping they wouldn't notice me.
Then came Georgia. The country that broke me down and made me a shell of the woman I used to be. It took a long time to get over all the things that have happened in my past. Acknowledging it. Accepting it. Healing from it. Being infuriated by it. Fighting back.
Here's the story, unedited from 2016 (sorry for the poor writing, I've learned a lot over the years):
Georgia: the land with everything – great food, good wine, amazing hospitality, spectacular mountains and scenery….but one thing that's not so great about Georgia is its men.
Now, before all the guys get their panties in a twist, this is not a man-hating post, it’s not because I had my heart broken or think that ALL Georgian men are like this. I have met some really cool Georgian guys. This is looking at the situation of what Georgian men are like in general and whether or not you should ever date one.
Firstly, what do Georgian men look like? It can be a mixed bag, but on a general basis dark hair, dark eyes, hairy, short, balding, and most come with a beard. Obviously its not everyone that looks like this, but its the predominate traits in Georgia. You can also find redheads, blonds, blue eyes, extremely tall, wafer thin and so forth. I think Georgians are generally attractive (before the remarks, I am not talking about the old Georgian men who's bellys are so big you wonder if their skin can contain it).
Secondly, what do Georgian men think of girls? “You are so beautiful”. “I love you”. “You are mine”. You are my star”. If you have low self esteem in what you look like, come to Georgia. It is the self esteem country for women's beauty of the world. I have never gotten so many compliments in my life. Never been stared at so much when I walk the street. Never been given so much free stuff. For simply being a girl. Thanks to the biology lottery for these breasts and a uterus!
So basically, being a girl in Georgia, I think you can safely say that you have your pick of the litter here when it comes to having some fun or something more in Georgia.
So, a country with cute guys who find every woman beautiful (no matter what)….but the question is should you date a Georgian?
What can possibly be wrong with Georgian men?
I use Tinder in Georgia, hoping to - I don't know, meet a nice guy to hang out with. Often I find myself going out with expats or tourists visiting Georgia than Georgians themselves. It's the way they approach a conversation or how they attempt to pick up a girl. They just don't know how to do it. After a quick “Hey”, it leads straight to, you are beautiful, let's have sex or send me a sexy pic. Now of course, this happens all over the world with guys! It's not exactly like Georgian guys created this type of guy. It's not uncommon at all for things, especially on Tinder, to escalate after only a couple of sentences to graphic sex comments. But there aren't douchbags everywhere, and you can filter through these apps to meet the normal ones or even in a bar. It's just that Georgian men don't know how to chat with a girl.
I actually don't know many Georgians that have girls as friends.
One of the most annoying traits here in Georgia, and something, especially newbie tourists coming need to be aware of, is that you can be “owned” by a guy here. Yeah, probably sounds completely ludicrous, but its really not. I bought you a drink, now you have sex with me. Ummm…that's not how this works. I have given you a free car ride, I am going to grab your leg and have sex with you. Umm…that's not how this works. We had sex once, now you are mine. Ummm..that's not how this works. You are sitting on a park bench, it means I can come sit next to you and touch you. Umm…that's not how this works.
I'm still trying to work out why Georgian men are so aggressive towards sex with women. Is it because they have to live at home until they marry. Going from one woman to the next and never having to take care of themselves i.e. mum to wife? Is it because generally in Georgia the women do most of the work? They cook, clean, bear and raise the kids, run the businesses and the list goes on. Do the men feel emasculated by this?
It's curious. I've personally had several conversations with young Georgian men about trying to understand why when I hitchhike or general just speak with a Georgian man, I am inviting them into my underpants? 70% of the time I hitchhike, I have had advances made. Even when I have been dating a Georgian, their friends still have made inappropriate advances (so much for bros before hoes). I ask these young men, why? Just why? “Oh you wouldn't understand, you're not a Georgian woman”. Hmmm. Trying not to punch these people in the head. “What do you mean, I'm not a Georgian woman?” “Georgian girls aren't easy. They are good girls” Yep, then the crazy comes out. “WTF do you mean. I am still a woman. I'm still a human being. Would you treat your mother, your sister? Your daughter with such disrespect?” It generally leads to absolutely no apologetic tone. So if people don't see the problem, how can they fix it?
It's a shame to be honest. Georgian guys have so much potential. But instead it becomes a running joke about Georgian men amongst expats and those few Georgians that have some civility with the opposite sex.
I have hooked up with a few Georgians, attempted dating a couple, attempted some friendships. But I have to say, (and probably most expat girls living in Georgia also agree), you shouldn't date a Georgian.
I'm curious to know if any Georgian women experience the same.
I still encourage people to visit Georgia. It is a beautiful place with amazing people, food, wine, landscapes and adventures. If you are a single woman or even two women - be prepared.
Below are some snapshots from the hundreds and hundreds of comments from Facebook, but I also received messages and comments on my website. I was also commented on several Georgian websites and I was in a local Georgian newspaper: