I recently traveled on a much-needed vacation to the Dominican Republic and was sexually harassed.
What seemed like a great and safe idea turned upside down quickly once I arrived at an island nation I had fallen in love with just a year ago. And the harassment didn’t happen just once; it happened four times over seven days. I felt lost and very unsafe. I was approached and then cornered by a beach vendor who went on for an hour telling me how beautiful I was, how he wanted to kiss me, how I made his heart flutter, he was chocolate, I was vanilla, let’s have a great time together, asking me “have you been with a Dominican man before?”, I will show you a great time, on and on and f***ing ON. And if he lost his words for English, he translated into his phone. When I read what he was saying I was in shock. This strong woman I am felt extremely violated.
The resort did not have security on the beach as they should, and I was told they could not control the vendors. Really? You cannot keep your guests safe? That made zero sense to me when I relied on this resort to not only ensure a pleasant stay but protect my well-being.
Then it happened again with another man, then again, then again.
I resorted to reporting this to the person assigned to my room, who then turned it over to a supervisor, who then taped a conversation about the instances and more. However, during this conversation, I was told well that is their culture, and the country is still developing. Wait, WHAT? WHY does this matter? It is not my culture to have men this aggressive hassling me. I’m certainly not naïve enough to not know that women and men get harassed repeatedly but does that mean it's OK? Does that mean a different culture justifies sexual harassment? No, it does not, and I feel violated that they thought explaining the culture would ultimately keep me around and feeling safe.
I spoke with family members about the situation and while some tried to understand the culture thing, others – me included – were like, what the hell? There were some very nice fellow vacationers I had met who tried to intervene and rescue me, yet there was no hope it seemed. I could not get out of the situation fast enough, so much so that I cut my trip short, hopped on a plane and headed home. My uneasy gut told me it was time to get out of this country where they apparently justify sexual harassment toward Americans. WTF?
Sadly, I now have a very bitter taste for DR. A far cry from my prior trip there when I stayed at a sister resort and not one problem occurred. It was peaceful and friendly folks continuously were checking on me as a woman traveling solo. That made this year’s trip so absolutely appalling. When you need to get away from it all, a vacation where you can breathe and have peace of mind you so desperately want, you should feel as if you can do so.
From now on, I may never travel alone; that’s how traumatic this has been for me. I will probably go with a friend or two. And even though I met some wonderful guests – after they saw what happened to me, I had a tribe looking out for me – I was still unsettled and didn’t want to leave my room at night for fear I could be the next victim thrown in a closet and beaten, which I have now learned shut down this same resort a few years ago. See story here: http://bit.ly/3zA4FA2 .
This is NOT OK in any way, shape or form and my next blog will focus on how to stay safe when traveling alone.
Stay true to yourself and your safety,