What is Voyeurism?
Voyeurism is the criminal act of secretly viewing a person without their consent in a place where the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy (such as a home or public bathroom, locker room, showers) or of using a device (such as a camera) to record the viewing. Voyeurism is an act of non-contact sexual violence. The voyeur or “Peeping Tom” may gain sexual pleasure from watching others when they are naked or engaged in sexual activity without their knowledge or consent.
Voyeurism can affect your spirit in many ways, including feelings of depression, fear or anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Victims may feel unsafe in public places or fear that photos or videos will be posted publicly. It’s important to recognize not all survivors will react the same way and often report a range of feelings about the experience.
After voyeurism, you may feel alone, ashamed or believe you did something or didn’t do something to provoke the act or that you somehow ‘deserved it.’ However, you are never to blame for voyeurism or any form of abuse that happens to you.
Trust your instincts if something seems out of place to you. When visiting new or unfamiliar places like public restrooms, hotels, or changing rooms check your surroundings for small holes where a camera could fit. Check blinking lights that seem out of place. Close doors, windows and curtains and lock doors when you are able. It is also a good idea to check the reputation and reviews online of any establishment you may choose to stay at. If you have evidence of voyeurism and feel safe to do so, report the crime.
If you have been a victim of voyeurism, acknowledge the feelings and impact it is having on you. Be gentle with yourself mentally and physically. Participating in self-care activities like counseling and journaling could be helpful. Also, you can practice resilience by smudging, praying or sitting with your traditional medicines.
If you’ve been affected by voyeurism, StrongHearts Native Helpline can help. StrongHearts Native Helpline is a 24/7 culturally-appropriate domestic, dating and sexual violence helpline for Native Americans and Alaska Natives, available by calling or texting 1-844-762-8483 or clicking on the chat icon at strongheartshelpline.org. Advocates offer peer support, crisis intervention, safety planning and referrals to Native-centered services.
“Voyeurism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/voyeurism. Accessed 12/14/2021.