With 35% of women globally having experienced physical or sexual violence, assault is no small matter. For Tessy Antony de Nassau, the former princess of Luxemborg, her experience fighting back against sexual assault happened while serving her country in the military.
In a new podcast episode of Unleashed: The Game Changers, Antony shared a candid perspective on what it’s like to fight an attacker. When asked if she ever feared for her life during her time in the military, she explained that while in the army, she was forced to defend herself from another officer.
“Another [member of the] military tried to sexually assault me, so I needed to defend myself,” Antony said. It also happened while she was the only woman on a mission. According to her account, she handled the situation with a physical defense and was able to get away. “I gave him a clap on his nose, and it was very painful for him,” she said.
Overall, during the time the experience “was not a big deal” to Antony, because she “knew what to do and had the education.” She explained that she knows her situation is unique — not many people have the education, let alone the training to fight off a sexual attacker. Now, she’s inspired to speak out against rape and sexual assault on behalf of survivors to help them find confidence.
“That’s why I speak up about it now, sexual violence in conflict, which is often a weapon of war, but also practiced between the military: man with man, man with woman, women towards men as well,” she said, adding that she aims to help other women speak up and not feel like it’s their own fault.
“I want to give confidence to all of these other women that experience that, to speak up, defend themselves. Because I think we’re still a long way from that, because it’s a shameful topic, isn’t it? When you’re being humiliated like that, to talk about it,” she said. “I try with my story to give confidence to other women.”
Antony was former Princess Tessy of Luxembourg and, as the ex-wife of Prince Louis, is a former member of the grand ducal family of Luxembourg. Now, she works as a social entrepreneur and helps to raise her two sons.
A public figure like Antony using her influence to speak up about sexual assault, especially coming from a royal family, gives a much-needed level of visibility to a devastating continuing issue — particularly within the armed forces.
While worldwide statistics on sexual assault in the military are not available, it’s reported that about 13,000 women and 7,500 men serving in the U.S. military experienced sexual assault during federal year 2018. Still, most members never report it, though a culture of talking about it more openly is starting to come about.
In the wake of the #MeToo movement and Harvey Weinstein trials, many survivors of sexual assault attempt to speak out, but so many others aren’t able to do so. Sexual assault can happen to anyone, and for Antony to spread the message that it doesn’t make someone who has experienced it any less is only all the more powerful to survivors around the world.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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