Supporting merchant seafarers who have experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault
Look after yourself
Try to take care of your physical and mental health as best you can. Obviously options for a healthy diet and exercise are limited but if you can, get ashore for a walk and buy yourself some decent food. Even a short walk ashore can raise the heart rate, help you to feel a little better, and remind you that there is more to life than what you are experiencing on board.
Don’t forget your value. If you are being bullied or abused and you are a long way from the people that love you, it can easily eat away at your confidence and self-esteem. Make a list of your strengths.
If you are being bullied and starting to doubt yourself, think about what you might say to a good friend who was experiencing the same thing. If your friend made a mistake on deck or in the engine room, would you say to them “Well of course you messed that up, you shouldn’t even be at sea! You’re useless at everything!”. Or would you say something kinder and more realistic?
The people who say you should not be on board because of your gender, sexuality, race, physical strength or any other reason, are wrong. There is a place for everyone on board. The physically weakest person may be the best at ship-handling, welding or splicing. The quietest might turn out to be the most methodical and calm in an emergency. There should be a place for all sorts of people on board, there should be no place for people who bully, harass, abuse and commit crimes against their fellow crew members.