*Trigger Warning*: Sexual Assault
In a particularly challenging time for women, we feel it’s important to amplify the voices of survivors and just general contributors with stories to tell.
I remember the first time I was cat-called; it was twice within 100m. I was in secondary school, walking into town alone, in my uniform, and one middle-aged man opened his car door to whistle at me, and then a second man standing outside a pub copied the first man as I walked past. It felt very much like a knock-on effect at the time; if the first man hadn’t done it, I doubt the second would have.
When I was 16, my friends and I went to V-Festival. On our first day we entered the crowd to see Gorgon City, the air was electric, and we were so excited for the weekend ahead of us. Whilst we were listening to the group, I felt a pair of hands manoeuvre their way around my waist and felt immediately uncomfortable.
These hands then continued to my bum bag which I had hidden under the jacket around my waist. I noticed that the hands were attempting to steal my bag, and in a panic, I turned around to see who they connected to.
In a crowd of adults, my rescuers were two other 16 year old girls
A man in his mid-30s stared at me and then began to yell, accusing me of stealing his jacket and stating that he was simply trying to take back what was his. He violently grabbed my arm and tried to pull me away from my friends and out of the crowd against my will.
What shocked me the most was that the crowd formed a circle and watched as a grown man acted this way towards a teenager. No one attempted to help me. It was two of my friends who managed to make him let go of me and took me out of the crowd. In a crowd of adults, my rescuers were two other 16 year old girls.
I was smoking with a male friend. I got very intoxicated and started to fall asleep on the sofa. He felt that it was appropriate and okay to feel my legs and touch me without my consent. When I realised what was happening, I protested. In response, rather than stop, he continued to pester me.
On another occasion, I went back to a man’s house. I decided that I did not want to sleep with him. I made up an excuse – that I was on my period. He still pressured me to get undressed. I made so many excuses that night. But he still continued to inappropriately touch me. I felt so scared.
I had never been called anything like that before
When I was 12, I was getting the bus to my Grandma’s house from school. I went through my usual routine: find a seat near the front, put my bag down, pick up my book, and start reading. However, on that day, a boy of a similar age decided he wanted to talk to me – perfectly innocent.
After a while, quite out of the blue, he asked me to be his girlfriend. I politely declined. He called me a c*nt. I was shocked. I had never been called anything like that before. Embarrassingly, it shook me so much I burst into tears when I got home.
In Year 9 (aged 13/14), I had Spanish lessons 3 or 4 times a week. During those lessons I was placed between two boys as part of the seating plan. For the majority of that year, I dreaded those lessons for the boys would repeatedly grope me and attempt to go further. I reported it and the teacher moved me for one lesson before putting me back. I’ve been catcalled on the streets, had drunken men try to assault me, and even female friends grope me when I’ve said no. I thought that it was normal because I’m a woman.
I never heard back from the police, which even at the age of 13 I already expected
Incidents range in severity, from appallingly frequent harassment in the street, to being followed and preyed upon by a man as I was walking home from school at the age of just 13. I only escaped this man after running into my old primary school, and subsequently had to go through the difficult process of filing a police report. Nothing happened.
I never heard back from the police, which even at the age of 13 I already expected, and my school never discussed it with me again, nor did they bring up the issue with other pupils – many of which walked similar routes home to me.
That one took a long time to recover from. For years afterwards I would turn around and look behind me compulsively every 10 meters or so when walking by myself; this inevitably made me look very odd.
I was walking through the centre of Nottingham with a female friend on a back street. A group of middle-aged men were walking towards us and one walked straight at us, not moving so we could pass. We had to split and go one either side. As we approached, he tried to get us to high five him, but we didn’t so, as we passed him, he reached over a grabbed my crotch. We just ran! The crazy part was that I wasn’t even fazed because things like that happen and we just have to get on with it.
In October last year, I was sexually assaulted by someone who I had just started dating. After a few dates, I decided that I was ready to have sex with him. It instantly started hurting and so I was quick to ask him to stop. Instead, his response was “Let’s just change position.” With this, I began to panic with the pain, fear and the fact that he wouldn’t listen to me. “No. Please just stop.” I said as tears began to fall down my cheeks. He stopped immediately after he saw I was crying but did not try to comfort me. He made me feel bad, as if I was the one who had done something wrong. I never heard from him again after that.
Solutions begin with education, so below are a list of resources for us to educate ourselves. There is also a link included for survivors.
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